the Assembly adopts a controversial article on algorithmic video surveillance – RT in French

The National Assembly has approved the use of so-called “intelligent” video surveillance, based on algorithms, which the executive wants to experiment with before and during the 2024 Olympics despite fears of security abuses from the left.

Article 7 of the Olympic bill was adopted by the deputies on March 23, with 59 votes in favor (presidential majority – LR – RN) against 14 against (Nupes). It provides on an experimental basis that the securing of “large-scale sporting, recreational or cultural events” can use algorithms.

The Olympic Games are in the line of sight but the experiment, which must stop at the end of 2024, could start as soon as the law is promulgated, and concern for example the next Rugby World Cup in September-October. The stated goal: to analyze the images captured by cameras or drones to automatically detect potentially risky actions or gestures.

A field of application that remains to be defined

The list of “events” to be detected must be fixed by decree, after consulting the National Commission for Computing and Liberties (Cnil). During the debates, the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin cited as examples “a fire starting, population bottlenecks, an abandoned package or bag”, but “not the hoodies”, he said. he assured, pressed with questions by the left.

Nupes deputies are concerned about the possible misuse of this technology, fearing that the Olympics will be than a “pretext” to pave the way for a generalization of this type of population surveillance. Same concern, on the side of elected officials on the right of the hemicycle, like Nicolas Dupont-Aignan. Warning against a “soft totalitarianism”, through this “generalized Chinese-style surveillance”, the deputy from Essonne defended an amendment aimed at removing this article 7 “not successful enough” in his eyes.

“Given the personality of the President of the Republic, and what you did during the health crisis where you locked up the French, there is cause for concern in voting for such an article!” he declared in front of his peers.

Concern around a generalization of the device

For its part, the executive insists on the safeguards, the absence of facial recognition and on the need to secure the Games and the millions of spectators expected. “The predetermined events concern not people, but situations”, insisted Gérald Darmanin, without convincing them.

The associations for the defense of freedoms are against, as is the National Bar Council. “The government has succeeded in having one of the most dangerous technologies ever deployed accepted”, denounced La Quadrature du net, campaigning against algorithmic video surveillance (VSA) and its generalization. “Thanks to a totally disinvested majority and the total support of the extreme right, the VSA was therefore able to be legalized on the basis of lies that undermine the democratic game a little more and more,” added the association.

The debates have revolved a lot around the “biometric” character or not of the data, for example to make it possible to isolate and follow a person. The majority and the government assure that they are not of this character. “It will necessarily be biometric data”, insisted the elected ecologist Sandra Regol.

France, European “leader” in augmented video surveillance?

The opposition deputies have tried to circumscribe the experiment more, to confine it to the abandonment of luggage, or to impose the fact that the State is solely responsible for the analysis of the data, without resorting to the private sector, but without hit.

An amendment by RN Aurélien Lopez-Liguori, president of the study group on digital security and sovereignty, was adopted. He intends to prioritize the use of European companies but the fact that deputies from the majority, members of the study group, have co-signed or sub-amended an RN amendment, has outraged the left. “We are on a drift of this majority which no longer knows where it is going”, denounced the ecologist Jérémie Iordanoff.

On March 17, as reported The world, the deputies of the National Assembly had received a letter from their European counterparts urging them to oppose this article of the bill on the Olympics. The signatory MEPs stressed that a majority in the European Parliament could soon come out in favor of a ban on the use of artificial intelligence to analyze video surveillance images.

“For a democratic country like France, encouraging these practices would on the contrary give carte blanche to repressive regimes around the world to do the same with their own citizens”, warned the MEPs in their letter, before insisting : “With this law, France would take on the less than stellar role of ‘leader’ of surveillance policies in the European Union”.

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