New French surveillance law a major blow to human rights, says Amnesty

27 July 2015 (Last Updated July 27th, 2015 18:30)

A new surveillance law that will enable the French authorities to monitor people online and offline will deal a major blow to human rights, Amnesty International has claimed.

France

A new surveillance law that will enable the French authorities to monitor people online and offline will deal a major blow to human rights, Amnesty International has claimed.

The French Constitutional Council endorsed all three sections of the Intelligence Bill, which was rushed through parliament in the wake of the Paris attacks earlier this year, and will come into force in a matter of days.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia deputy director Gauri van Gulik said: "The surveillance measures authorised 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."

The law enables the French Prime Minister to authorise intrusive surveillance measures for broad and undefined goals, such as major foreign policy interests, safeguarding national economic, industria,l and scientific interests, as well as prevention of 'collective violence' and 'organised delinquency'.

The French Government will be able to use mass surveillance tools that capture mobile phone calls and black boxes in internet service providers tasked with collection and analysis of personal data of millions of internet users, for the purposes of counterterrorism.

The bill requires the prime minister to seek the views of a new body, the National Committee of Intelligence Techniques Control, instead of getting a judge's approval, and without any need to abide by them.

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

Amnesty International France head Genevieve Garrigos said: "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 organising a protest, could be subjected to extremely intrusive forms of surveillance."

The Constitutional Council struck down one of the most excessive sections of the law that dealt with surveillance of international communications, facilitating the interception of communications sent or received abroad.

Another section that would have enabled intelligence agencies, to carry out surveillance without any authorisation, even from the prime minister in case of 'urgent threats' was also slashed.


Image: France's new surveillance law attracted to strong opposition from rights groups, judges, tech companies, trade unions, lawyers and parliamentarians, as well as from international human rights bodies. Photo: © 2015 Amnesty International.