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Against AI mass surveillance in Paris 2024: 41 MEPs address French Parliament

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

Today, 41 MEPs from different political groups address the French Parliament with an open letter (version française). In the letter, the MEPs call on the French Parliament to stop an unprecedented planned automated mass surveillance of citizens’ behaviour in public using artificial intelligence. French MPs are being asked to rescind an authorisation to do so from the planned legislation for the Paris 2024 Olympics before the final vote next Tuesday.

The proposed legislation would authorise police authorities during sporting events to use surveillance cameras and error-prone artificial intelligence to automatically report supposedly “abnormal” or “suspicious” behaviour. MEPs warn against the crippling effect of such mass surveillance of public spaces, which has never been conducted before in Europe, and which would set a precedent. The signatories to the open letter include several negotiators of the proposed EU Artificial Intelligence Act, which would ban biometric mass surveillance, including co-rapporteur Brando Benifei (Socialist Group). German signatories include Birgit Sippel (SPD), Cornelia Ernst (Left Party) and Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party).

Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer, initiator of the letter, explains:

“Such suspicion machines report countless citizens wrongly, are discriminatory, educate to conformist behaviour and are absolutely useless in catching criminals, as studies and experiences have proven. Step by step, like in China, social diversity is threatened and our open society replaced by a conformist consumer society. While MEPs in Brussels are currently fighting hard for a ban on biometric mass surveillance of public spaces, the French parliament is threatening to help it enter Europe for the first time. At a unifying event like the Olympic Games, discriminatory and error-prone technology will now be used to constantly monitor people from all over the world and to blacklist them if they are noticed. This would set a dangerous precedent and deeply intrude into the highly personal lives of every human being. The French Parliament is called upon to defend our values of freedom and diversity and to protect our open society.”