French new surveillance law: Violating human rights and what?

30/08/2015


Recently, we have witnessed a vivid example for that national interests have been prioritized above human rights. Ironically, this has happened in one of the most self-claimed democratic countries, France.
France's highest constitutional authority approved a sweeping, controversial new surveillance law that greatly expands the government's spying powers, despite widespread human rights concerns.
The French government rushed the Intelligence Bill through parliament in the wake of the Paris attacks earlier this year, turning a deaf ear to strong opposition from rights groups, judges, tech companies, trade unions, lawyers and parliamentarians, as well as criticism from international human rights bodies.
“Last night’s decision clears the last hurdle for a law that will deal a major blow to human rights in France. The surveillance measures authorized by this law are wildly out of proportion. Large swathes of France’s population could soon find themselves under surveillance on obscure grounds and without prior judicial approval,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
“The US and UK security agencies’ mass surveillance was denounced globally, yet French authorities appear to want to mimic their American and British counterparts in allowing the authorities to intercept and access people’s communications at will.”
The decision comes only two days after the UN Human Rights Committee, tasked with reviewing France’s compliance with its treaty obligations, criticized the law giving the French government “excessively large surveillance powers”. Contrary to what the UN argued, the Constitutional Council did not strike down the fact that the Prime Minister, not a judge, can authorize surveillance, nor did it rule against the lawfulness of the goals for which surveillance is allowed as listed in the law.
The law gives French intelligence agencies power to tap phones and hack into computers; sweep up and analyze metadata of millions of civilians; and plant secret microphones, cameras, and 'keystroke loggers' in the homes of "suspected terrorists"—all without approval from a judge.
It also gives the government the power to authorize surveillance for reasons as vague as "major foreign policy interests" and preventing "organized delinquency."
The key problems with the law as it stands include:
·   It allows the Prime Minister to authorize intrusive surveillance measures for broad and undefined goals such as “major foreign policy interests”, protecting of France’s “economic, industrial and scientific interests” and prevention of “collective violence” and “organised delinquency”.
·   It allows the use of mass surveillance tools that capture mobile phone calls and black boxes (for the purposes of counterterrorism) in internet service providers that collect and analyse the personal data of millions of internet users.
·   Lack of independent oversight: instead of getting a judge’s approval, the Prime Minister would only need to seek the views of a new body, the “National Committee of Intelligence Techniques Control”, without any need to abide by them.
·   It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for people to find out whether they are being unlawfully spied on, or for whistle-blowers to expose abuse of surveillance powers.
The Constitutional Council struck down one of the most excessive sections of the law, dealing with surveillance of international communications that would have allowed the interception of communications “sent or received” abroad. Amnesty International had warned that this could have included virtually all internet communications. It also struck down a section that would have allowed intelligence agencies, to carry out surveillance without any authorization, even from the prime minister in case of “urgent threats”.
“This law is in flagrant violation of the international human rights to privacy and free speech. Someone investigating the actions of the French government or French companies or even organizing a protest, could be subjected to extremely intrusive forms of surveillance. Mass surveillance tools, including black boxes, would put the internet communications of the entire population and beyond within reach of the French authorities,” said Geneviève Garrigos, head of Amnesty International France.
Privacy International, Amnesty International, FIDH, the French League for Human Rights and Reporters Without Borders are alarmed by the expansive surveillance powers to be granted to surveillance agencies contained in a Bill
Under the new law, French intelligence agencies would be empowered to hack into computers and devices and spy on the communications of anyone who makes contact with a person under suspicion, even incidentally. The new law will enable them to do this without having to obtain a judicial warrant.
By removing early judicial control of surveillance, the Bill not only represents a serious incursion into the privacy of ordinary people, but further increases the risk of abuse. It could also exacerbate the risks mass surveillance poses for those who work on sensitive issues and rely on confidential sources, including journalists and human rights organizations.
The government justified the bill by invoking recent attacks in Paris, which saw 17 people killed by gunmen in January at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher deli. President Francois Hollande's move to have the law approved by the Constitutional Council is "unusual," the Guardian writes. But while it is rare, Hollande's motives are clear—the decision by the Council ensures that the law will not be challenged as illegal in the future.
So, now we can see when national interests are being threatened, even France, US or Britain, who always claim themselves democratic models of the world don’t care of human rights or democracy any more, that’s how Western democracy is!./.
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All comments [ 10 ]


LawrenceSamuels 2/9/15 20:24

Extensive powers allowing French authorities to monitor people online and offline will violate people's rights.

Jane smartnic 2/9/15 20:27

Large swathes of France’s population could soon find themselves under surveillance on obscure grounds and without prior judicial approval.

yobro yobro 2/9/15 20:31

The US and UK security agencies’ mass surveillance was denounced globally, yet French authorities appear to want to mimic their American and British counterparts in allowing the authorities to intercept and access people’s communications at will.

Love Peace 2/9/15 20:32

The law will deal a major blow to human rights in France!

MaskOf Zero 2/9/15 20:34

This law is in flagrant violation of the international human rights to privacy and free speech.

John Smith 2/9/15 20:37

Though the goal of the bill is to place France’s surveillance practices under the rule of law, it in fact uses law to clothe a naked expansion of surveillance powers.

Gentle Moon 2/9/15 20:39

It would create a highly damaging model for other Western countries, so democratic, so full of human rights!

Only Solidar 2/9/15 20:42

The example of US law shows how easily vague standards can wind up justifying mass surveillance.

Pack Cassiopian 2/9/15 20:44

Should the activities of independent organizations as a whole be under general monitoring and suspicion?

Deck Hero14 2/9/15 20:47

The public will remain in the dark as to how many people were actually monitored, what targets or types of targets were approved.

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