— Published 23 March 2023

Darmanin defends video surveillance

The debate was expected to be lively. It lived up to its promise. Gérald Darmanin, the French Minister of the Interior, defended the use of video surveillance during the Paris 2024 Games on Wednesday 22 March in the National Assembly, until late in the evening. This measure is contained in the new version of the Olympic law, examined since the beginning of the week by the deputies. It plans to authorize the coupling of video surveillance to an algorithmic treatment of images, a process supposed to allow the security forces to detect situations considered abnormal. Faced with a left-wing opposition to the project, Gérald Darmanin explained that “many inaccuracies”had been mentioned by opponents of this technology.“It is about having a tool to help the decision of the forces of order, it is not about recognizing people, but situations,” he patiently explained, citing examples of abandoned packages or crowd movements. The Minister of the Interior listed the many guarantees provided in the bill. He specified that the experiment will end at the end of 2024 and that it would prohibit facial recognition and biometric processing. Several amendments had been tabled by the opposition, notably against the use of algorithmic video surveillance from drones. They were rejected. Reaction without nuance the ecologist deputy Sandra Regol: “You hide behind the argument that facial recognition will be prohibited to hide the fact that the data on faces will be processed by algorithms and archived. This law proposes to turn the entire population on French territory into guinea pigs.” The debates are due to resume this Thursday in the National Assembly. The bill has already been passed with a comfortable majority on first reading in the Senate.