[JURIST] France’s Constitutional Court [official website, in French] decided [judgement, PDF, in French] Friday that a new billing allowing for broad surveillance of terrorism suspects does not violate the country’s constitution. The bill [No. 2669, in French] was proposed before the most recent terrorist attacks but officials stated that the recent attacks have added to the urgent need to pass the legislation. The court’s ruling is one of the last steps in the process before the bill can become a law. The new law has drawn criticism from civil rights advocates who think that the law has infringed upon French constitutional rights. One of the provisions in the new law allows for the French government to monitor internet users through private internet firms anonymously but they can get more information on users if necessary through an independent panel.
Surveillance to combat terrorism has been a controversial issue in France. In early July 2015, France’s chief prosecutor said [JURIST report] that the man who allegedly beheaded his boss, pinned the severed head on a fence post and tried to blow up an industrial plant will be charged with terrorism and murder. This attack comes five months after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine [JURIST report] in Paris. France’s National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, approved a bill [JURIST report] relating to intelligence in May, which would allow authorities to increase surveillance of anyone linked to terrorism investigations without permission from a judge. The bill authorizes intelligence agencies to tap e-mails and phone calls, place recording cameras inside homes, and install devices that monitor computer keystrokes in real time. The French Justice Ministry also called on prosecutors to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and support of terrorism.