France lower house approves surveillance law

France lower house approves surveillance law

[JURIST] France’s National Assembly [official website, in French], the lower house of parliament, approved Bill relating to Intelligence (No. 2669) [text, in French] on Tuesday, which would allow authorities to increase surveillance of anyone linked to terrorism investigations without permission from a judge. The bill authorizes [Guardian report] intelligence agencies to tap e-mails and phone calls, place recording cameras inside homes, and install devices that monitor computer keystrokes in real time. It would also require Internet providers and communication companies to search through metadata to flag suspicious behavior and send it to police. Lawmakers voted 438 to 86 to pass the law, which was supported by French President François Hollande [official website, in French], and will next be sent to the Senate for approval. Hollande also indicated he will refer the law to the constitutional council to ensure its constitutionality. Supporters of the law claim it is necessary [WSJ report] because the previous legal framework is outdated and it will be more efficient. Critics of the surveillance law, however, say it will cause mass surveillance and infringe on individual freedom and privacy.

The new law was proposed weeks after an attack was perpetrated [JURIST report] by masked gunmen who entered the office of the magazine Charlie Hebdo and left 17 people dead over three days. After the tragedy, French police arrested [JURIST report] dozens of people for verbally supporting or threatening terrorist acts, including four minors and French comedian Dieudonne who is known for his anti-Semitic views. The French Justice Ministry also called on prosecutors to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and support of terrorism. The French government began pushing the bill in March, hoping that such action would prevent an imminent terror attack [JURIST report]. Parliament began debating [JURIST report] the bill the following month.