France uses AI-powered surveillance in Paris 2024 Olympics despite warnings from rights groups

The French parliament on Thursday approved the use of artificial intelligence (AI) video surveillance during the 2024 Paris Olympics, ignoring warnings from civil rights groups that the technology poses a threat to civil liberties.

The government says algorithmic video surveillance can detect “predefined events”, unusual behavior and crowding, helping to ensure the safety of millions of expected tourists. will flood the French capital next summer.

With favorable primaries in the Senate and Congress, the biggest legislative hurdles have been removed, although it can be challenged in the highest constitutional court.

If officially approved, France will become the first country in the European Union to legalize AI-powered surveillance. That would set a worrying surveillance precedent, a group of several dozen European lawmakers said last week.

Justifying the technology, Stephane Mazars, an MP from President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, said that “before the whole world, France will need to rise to meet the greatest security challenge in its history.” .”

The plan to deploy AI surveillance has been met with strong opposition from rights groups such as Amnesty International and digital rights groups. They argue that the technology poses a threat to civil liberties and draws a dangerous line in the sand.

The text was voted in favor of 59-17, in the 577-seat chamber.

The debate in France comes as the European Union is debating its own AI Act, a landmark EU piece of legislation governing the use of artificial intelligence in Europe that has been in the works for more than a year. two years.

In addition to companies’ use of AI, EU legislation will also look at AI used in the public sector and law enforcement.

France’s privacy watchdog, CNIL, is backing a French government bill on the condition that it doesn’t process biometric data. Proponents of the bill say this is the case, but privacy experts remain skeptical.

“You can do two things: detect objects or analyze human behavior – the second is process biometric data,” said Daniel Leufer, policy advisor at digital rights organization Access Now. learn”. space in the EU AI Act.

Ruling party lawmaker Sacha Houlie, chair of the parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs, told the lower house that AI could help prevent the 2016 Nice attack by identifying the movement of a vehicle. The load used to rush through the crowd is suspicious. The technology could also help prevent crowd chaos at last year’s Champions League Final in Paris, he said.

Both the Senate and Congress have now passed the bill text. A joint committee will seek compromise on any differences in the text they have agreed to during the debate.

Access Now’s Leufer questioned the utility of AI in detecting potential attackers because of the complexity of the training algorithm for rare incidents.

“AI is not good at that (because) at the technical level, you have to give the machine countless examples,” he said.

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