France sets EU precedent with 2024 Olympics surveillance arsenal

Screenshot 2023-03-28 221031France’s AI-powered array of surveillance cameras for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics cleared a final legislative hurdle on Thursday.

The French government wants to experiment with large-scale, real-time camera systems supported by an algorithm to spot suspicious behavior, including unsupervised luggage and triggering alarms to warn of crowd movements like stampedes, for the mega-sports event next year.

In a sparsely-attended chamber, French members of parliament approved the controversial bill after more than seven hours of heated debate. The text can still be challenged before the country’s top constitutional court.

Last week, a group of about 40 European lawmakers — mainly left-wing — asked their French counterparts to vote against the text. They warned in a letter that “France would set a surveillance precedent of the kind never before seen in Europe, using the pretext of the [2024 Paris Summer] Olympic games.”