security or violation of human rights? AI surveillance divides

The Senate is studying this Tuesday the bill relating to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, an article on video surveillance by artificial intelligence which raises fears of a violation of human rights.

549 days before the opening ceremony in the streets of Paris, the Senate begins this Tuesday to think about the 2024 Olympics. The senators will debate the bill entitled “Organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2024”. Un texte adoptedé en commission la semaine dernière qui aborde énormément de points autour de ces JO de Paris: dérogation de fermetures obligatoire le dimanche pour le commerce, ajustement du règlement anti-dopage en France, possibilité pour des médecins étrangers d’intervenir sur le sol French.

An essential tool for its supporters…

But one article in particular raises questions, especially with associations for the protection of individual freedoms: article 7, dedicated to the safety of the event. The Council of State and the CNIL (National Commission for Information Technology and Liberties) have given their agreement to this bill on surveillance using artificial intelligence. The CNIL should support the development of the algorithm that will be incorporated into cameras and drones to ensure it does not conflict with freedoms.

Its supporters call for its use to guarantee optimal safety, as explained by the rapporteur of the text to the Senate, Agnès Canayer (LR Senator of Seine Maritime). “Given the scale of the Olympic Games, of the event which will gather a large number of spectators, it is necessary to adopt new tools in terms of security, she confides. The idea is that the images that are captured by video surveillance cameras or drones are filtered by algorithms that detect predetermined events. This will allow greater efficiency in the action and will help law enforcement agencies to focus on risk management and not just on the playback of video surveillance footage”.

… a dangerous drift for his opponents

This device worries some associations who see it as an attack on freedoms. “This type of surveillance is by nature unacceptable in a democracy, denounces Bastien Le Querrec, lawyer of the association La Quadrature du net. like it or not – massive surveillance of the entire public space. Until now, it takes one person to watch and analyze the scene.If a bag is left behind and a person wants to cause as many casualties as possible, no matter how well you can spot the bag, it will be too late and there will be tragedy.

If this text were adopted, it would be considered a turning point for society, according to the CNIL. The video surveillance cameras would then be configured, set up to automatically detect suspicious behavior without human assistance: an anomalous movement of the crowd or an object walking around on the public street, for example… For the moment, no details on the type of specifically targeted behavior have been filtered . A list will be drawn up later by the government. The goal is to alert the police more quickly to the slightest suspicious case and avoid incidents like those in the Champions League final last May at the Stade de France.

The CNIL opposes facial recognition

From June 2024 to June 2025, these smart cameras would be used in very targeted locations, particularly around Olympic competition sites, but also around stations. Text advocates promise guaranteed anonymity without the use of facial recognition. The CNIL also opposed it on Tuesday. This does not alleviate the concerns of associations such as Amnesty International which denounces, this Tuesday in a press release, “a dangerous first step for human rights, including the right to privacy”.

“If the fight against crime or terrorism is legitimate, it must however be framed and respond to strict criteria of necessity and proportionality, says Katia Roux, advocacy manager for ‘Technologies and human rights’ of the organization. However, the provision proposed by Article 7 does not meet these conditions. The exception therefore runs the risk of becoming the norm in a context of the clear will of the French authorities to extend their supervisory powers. The Olympics must not be used as a pretext to facilitate the establishment of a permanent state of exception.

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