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French plans for AI surveillance during Olympics pose threat to privacy rights

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Image credit : Emerj Artificial Intelligence Research For the first time in France's history, lawmakers are set to approve legislation this month allowing for widespread video monitoring aided by artificial intelligence (AI) technologies during the 2024 Paris Olympics. It has disastrous repercussions for fundamental human rights, such as the rights to privacy, equality, and non-discrimination, as well as freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, when governments start down the slippery slope toward the extension of surveillance authorities. Under the guise of ensuring security and fighting terrorism, the French authorities will be able to monitor the movements of millions of people from around the world, whether they are heading to or near stadiums, or using public transportation leading in or out of the premises of the grand sporting event. It is reasonable that protection is needed during the game, but every step of the process requires transparency and legal support. Any security-related idea must adhere to fundamental rights. The Olympics are nevertheless subject to international human rights law, and a careful examination of such measures is essential. The bill hasn't yet provided any evidence of how such AI-powered video surveillance will adhere to human rights standards. The French government has not demonstrated how the measures adhere to the proportionality principle or what protections, such as privacy protection measures, stringent restraints and limitations on purpose, and data minimization, will be in place to prevent a permanent surveillance infrastructure. This is an unjustifiable, widespread use of AI-driven mass surveillance. It is commonly known that the use and development of AI by both commercial businesses and government agencies in the European Union endangers human rights. Migrants, Black people, and other marginalized groups suffer as a result of the usage of technology. In an open letter initiated by the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, 38 civil society organizations, including Amnesty International, have called on French policymakers to reject the draft legislation allowing invasive surveillance, as it would pose a monumental threat to fundamental rights and freedoms. The proposed legislation would subject spectators traveling to sporting events in Paris to unjustified surveillance, including drones programmed to look for "abnormal or suspicious" conduct in crowds and ubiquitous fixed CCTV cameras. We must oppose such unduly broad conceptions and pose the following critical inquiries to ourselves: Who decides what constitutes "normal" behavior? A stifling effect on dissent and protest can also be exacerbated by officials who control the classifications of "abnormal or suspicious" actions, and prejudice against already-targeted communities can be intensified. Major athletic events have been utilized by nations to establish and implant a panopticon of surveillance technologies, bringing about an Orwellian nightmare. Amnesty International worries that this bill will covertly increase mass monitoring and police authority in France while French authorities insist that this is only a temporary experiment. The 2012 London Olympics serve as a powerful illustration of how governments have utilized large athletic events to erect and amplify intrusive, ongoing, and repressive surveillance systems. The South Wales Police utilized facial recognition cameras at the 2017 UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff and mistakenly highlighted 2,000 people as potential offenders, demonstrating how intrusive and unreliable such systems are.

By Awanish Kumar

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