As Paris prepares to host the 2024 Olympics, the city plans to use artificial intelligence (AI) for crowd surveillance to enhance security. Human rights groups are voicing concerns over what they see as creeping surveillance measures.

AI on Patrol

In the lead-up to the Games, French authorities have been rigorously testing AI surveillance systems at various public venues, including train stations, concerts, and football matches.

Once the Olympics commence in July, these systems will be used to monitor crowds, detect abandoned packages, identify weapons, and more.

While officials assure that these tools will only become fully operational from the start of the Games, they will remain in use by police, fire and rescue services, and some French transport security agents until March 31, 2025.

Security vs. Privacy

“The Olympics are a massive opportunity to test this type of surveillance under the guise of security concerns,” says Katia Roux, advocacy lead at Amnesty International France. “This paves the way for even more intrusive systems, such as facial recognition.”

Big Brother at the Train Station and Beyond

The French government has teamed up with four companies—Videtics, Orange Business, ChapVision, and Wintics—to implement this ambitious project. Their security platforms monitor eight metrics: Counterflow Traffic, Unauthorized Zone Entry, Crowd Movement, Abandoned Packages, Weapon Detection, Overcrowding, Bodies on the ground, and Fire Incidents.

These systems have already been tested at high-profile events like Depeche Mode and Black Eyed Peas concerts, and a soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyon. The technology has also been trialed on crowds at the Nanterre Prefecture and La Defense Grande Arche metro stations during a Taylor Swift concert and the Cannes Film Festival, which attracted 40,000 attendees.

“One overarching concern is that while many use cases might not seem to involve identifying or profiling individuals, they still require a surveillance infrastructure that could easily be updated to enable mass surveillance,” warns Daniel Leufer, a senior policy analyst at digital rights group Access Now.

Read :- Venues – Paris 2024 – Olympics

AI’s Olympic Debut: A New Era?

In response to the criticism, French lawmakers have banned facial recognition for these surveillance systems, calling it a red line that will not be crossed. Despite this, experts remain uneasy about the lack of transparency regarding how these technologies work and how their success is being measured.

“There is nowhere near the necessary amount of transparency about these technologies,” emphasizes Leufer.

As the world watches Paris for the 2024 Olympics, the debate over AI surveillance continues, highlighting the tension between enhanced security and personal privacy.

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