France pension protests: Kevin Hassett breaks down controversial pension reform bill
Former White House economist Kevin Hassett weighs in as Paris protests continue over hiking retirement age on ‘Your World.’
The highest constitutional court in France issued a decision Wednesday supporting the use of AI-powered surveillance cameras for the 2024 Paris Olympics despite privacy concerns.
The Constitutional Council ruled that certain contested provisions of a law relating to the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2024 do not infringe upon the right to respect for private life, because it ensures that development and implementation of algorithmic processing stays under people’s control.
After hours of heated debate last month, the French Parliament cleared the final legislative hurdle to pass a controversial bill to launch the experimental use of large-scale, real-time camera systems supported by an algorithm to identify suspicious behavior, including unsupervised luggage and sounding alarms warning of possible crowd stampedes, Politico reported.
The system would be in effect until March 2025 under the law, but some left leaning French MPs had argued the use of AI-powered surveillance cameras in Paris would be disregarding the freedom to come and go, the right to demonstrate, freedom of opinion, and the right to respect for private life.
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Demonstrators gathered in front of the Olympic rings of Paris 2024 on April 20, 2023, protest against pension reform. A French court this week approved controversial AI-based security measures for the 2024 games. (Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
They argued the scope of the law was too broad and lacked guarantees that the algorithmic processing of images would be limited to solely the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and could possibly lead to the processing of biometric data – even though the law explicitly forbids that practice.
The court noted that the law already contains provisions that state the “algorithmic processing of the images” collected may only be used “to ensure the safety of sporting, recreational or cultural events which, by the extent of their attendance or by their circumstances, are particularly exposed to the risk of acts of terrorism or serious threats to personal safety.” Authorities may only use the data collected through AI “for events presenting particular risks of serious breaches of public order,” not for events that only risk damage to property, the court said.
“The algorithmic processing used must make it possible to verify the objectivity of the criteria adopted and the nature of the data processed as well as include human control measures and a risk management system to prevent and correct the occurrence of any biases or misuse,” the Constitutional Council wrote in French Wednesday.
As a result of an April 26, 2023, court order, French law enforcement expelled hundreds of migrants off the streets to make room for construction projects in Ile-Saint-Denis ahead of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. (Ameer Alhalbi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The court also approves of the law because it says algorithmic processing cannot implement any facial recognition technique, use any biometric identification system, and cannot have recourse to biometric data “relating to physical, physiological or behavioral characteristics of a natural person which allow or confirm their unique identification.”
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In a letter to French Parliament last week, a group of 40 mostly left-leaning members of European Parliament warned that if the law is passed in its current form, “France would set a surveillance precedent of the kind never before seen in Europe, using the pretext of the Olympic Games.”
“The risks and concerns posed by the ever-increasing surveillance apparatus of the State, in contrast, are very real. Notably the only country to comprehensively embrace biometric mass surveillance of the entire population so far is authoritarian China,” the letter says.
On May 3, 2023, members of the French Civil Protection conducted an exercise on chemical, radiological and biological risks ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Supporters say a new AI law will help deter terrorism during the event. (GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)
They argued the automated analysis of behavior captured by CCTV cameras in public spaces does not fall in line “with democratic values and principles, during large-scale events such as the Olympic Games, which thousands of EU citizens are expected to attend.”
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“People who constantly feel watched and under surveillance cannot freely and courageously stand up for their rights and for a just society. Technological developments need to be aligned with our rights and values,” the letter concludes. The greenlighted AI-powered surveillance also comes as France is reeling from months of large-scale protests against pension reforms and President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @danimwallace.