AI Camera Surveillance at Olympics Raises Privacy Concerns

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    In 2023, AI will play a leading role and is spreading to various fields. In its latest development, the technology is now being adopted for use at next year’s Paris Olympics. The convention will see smart surveillance cameras with computer vision technology deployed to identify potential security threats.

    French parliamentarians have approved plans to use smart surveillance cameras as a security measure at mega sporting events. France’s data protection regulator will oversee tech companies to ensure they comply with privacy rules during the Games.

    Last month, France’s parliament approved a bill allowing companies to test computer vision cameras to identify security threats during the next spectacle.

    Also read: Universities ban AI tools including ChatGPT

    Approved legislation, which is due to come into force soon, will allow the use of such cameras in stadiums and transport hubs and will be in effect until the end of next year.

    Concerns about biometric surveillance

    Privacy advocates were quick to express concern about the intrusive nature of the technology, which uses algorithms to recognize physical characteristics and send alerts to security authorities.

    “We need to experiment to find out more about the effectiveness of this technology.” Said Bertrand Pailhès, Head of Technology and Innovation at Cnil, the French data protection regulator, said:

    Companies can use computer vision technology to analyze complex processes, such as monitoring activity in a chicken processing plant.

    Nevertheless, the use of cameras in public spaces is a controversial issue as they can capture images of individuals passing through the area.

    During the upcoming Olympics, Cnil will oversee technology companies that have won government contracts to test computer vision cameras during this year’s and next’s Olympics.

    Regulators will provide guidance on how to comply with privacy rules and investigate possible violations, Pailhès said.

    Developers of computer vision cameras have complained about the slow pace of legal approval for using the technology in public spaces in Europe.

    Tested without law in 2020

    During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, French company DatakaLab was criticized for its use of computer vision cameras when it tested a system to detect people not wearing masks on public transport in Paris.

    Data protection regulators dropped the case because no legislation existed to authorize the technology.

    A law was passed to allow cameras in 2021, but they were never installed again. As a result, DatakaLab CEO Xavier Fischer stopped using computer vision as legal issues made the market unpredictable.

    Our non-European competitors do not face the same legal restrictions, which gives them a distinct advantage.

    “we [were] We lost precious time,” Fisher said.

    First in Europe

    Privacy advocates concerned about the use of computer vision cameras during the Olympics say it could pave the way for increased surveillance by police and other organizations.

    Noémie Levain, legal adviser to La Quadrature du Net, said: “Indeed, the Olympic Games presents a great legitimacy for the acceptance of this technology.

    The law would make France the first country in Europe to legalize biometric surveillance, the group said. But Pyres argues that tests conducted before the Olympics will help determine privacy risks and applications of the technology.

    “At this stage, we don’t know exactly if the technology will work,” Pailhès added.

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