Surveillance at the Paris Olympics: Balancing national interest and individual freedom

Poojan Bulani of University College London looks into the new video surveillance regime, made possible by legislation passed in 2023 specifically for the 2024 Games.

Balancing civil rights and national security has been a conundrum for ages. In a liberal democracy, people have the freedom to express themselves. But this liberty also makes a conducive environment for violence that could weaken democracy itself. On the foundation of this paradox, the contentious case of the Paris Olympic Games 2024 (the Games) becomes a pivotal case study.

In March 2023, the French senate passed a bill(1) to allow the use of video surveillance during the Games because of a history of security breaches such as the Atlanta Olympics Bombing(2) and the 2016 Bastille Day attack(3). The law makes it possible to use these cameras for the purpose of identifying suspicious conduct and enhancing security measures. Despite the opposition(4) from privacy advocates(5), the courts authorised the bill.

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