France wants to legalise mass surveillance for the Paris Olympics 2024: “Safety” and “security”, for whom?

Many governments are using mass surveillance to support law enforcement for the purposes of safety and security. In France, the French Parliament (and before, the French Senate) have approved the use of automated behavioural video surveillance at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Simply put, France wants to legalise mass surveillance at the national level which can violate many rights, such as the freedom of assembly and association, privacy, and non-discrimination.

The blanket application of AI-driven mass surveillance means that millions of people in public spaces will be continuously tracked and monitored. The ubiquitous use of CCTV cameras and drones in order to monitor “suspicious” or “abnormal” activities is deeply concerning, particularly as these definitions and categories set by officials are overly broad. Dozens of civil society organisations have signed an open letter and issued statements, including this one by Amnesty International, against building such a colossal surveillance architecture. Agnes Callamard from Amnesty reiterates that:

These technologies amplify racist policing and threaten the right to protest. Ethnic minorities — including migrants, and Black and Brown people — are most at risk of being targeted by certain surveillance tools, especially facial recognition systems.

Last week, the lack of acknowledgement of police brutality, racism and colonialism in France has reared its ugly head again in the death of 17 year old Nahel and the resulting riots. Legalising the use of these intrusive surveillance technologies will enable more possibilities of police violence, supercharging discrimination against racialised and marginalised communities which are already targeted.

The experiences in France and in many other countries have shown that “experimental” tech security measures often become the norm. Following the London Olympics in 2012 for example, many surveillance measures used for safety and security for the event became permanent.

See France: Intrusive Olympics surveillance technologies could usher in a dystopian future at Amnesty International.

Photo by Lianhao Qu on Unsplash.

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