French Intelligence Bill: Mass Opposition to Mass Surveillance!

Paris, 15 April 2015 – The Intelligence Billis currently being debated at a fast pace in the French National Assembly and the debates will continue until Thursday 16 April. However, both the French Government and rapporteur Urvoas refuse to hear the growing opposition pointing out the dangers of this unacceptable text. La Quadrature du Net calls on citizens to act and Members of Parliament to face their responsibilities by opposing this text altogether and mass surveillance in general.

The parliamentary debates on the Intelligence Bill began on Monday 13 April, in the midst of fierce criticism (fr) about the means and the goals of this bill, coming from citizens, lawyers, judges and police associations, civil rights NGOs but also heavyweights of the digital economy, the French Defender of Rights and even UN rapporteurs as well as the Council of Europe.

Demonstration against mass surveillance

The French Government, represented by Manuel Valls and Bernard Cazeneuve, but also rapporteur Jean-Jacques Urvoas, answers only in bad faith and with insulting contempt for the judicial, technical and political arguments brought forward by those defending civil liberties.

None of the fundamental issues raised by opponents, which make the whole text unacceptable, are poised to be fixed:

  • The goals and the means of surveillance are still too far-reaching and ill-defined, allowing for mass interception. The intimate and professional lives of activists, journalists, lawyers or of any citizen could fall into the nets of the surveillance techniques which will be used.
  • Legal recourse and control over said surveillance are broken, illusory, and are all concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister, and no one else. The purpose of the text seems to legalise practices which should be forbidden (mass surveillance being incompatible with democracy), and to organise impunity, beyond any type of democratic control, for every kind of mass or targeted surveillance.
  • Mass surveillance of the Internet and of French people's communications would transform Internet players into auxiliaries of this unjustifiable mass surveillance.

The too few representatives who had the courage to defend our fundamental freedoms in a deserted lower house must keep on opposing this text and refuse any compromise until the text is voted on May 5th, and beyond. Citizens must also stay mobilised – not only to inform those around them about the dangers of this law, but also to demand that their elected representatives take a firm stance against the text. Citizens must make it clear to their representatives : their collaboration and their complacency over such an unjustifiable surveillance will follow them every single day of their term of office.

“Here's the truth, the government is about to to pass a law that will authorize any and all possible abuse in terms of mass surveillance, without any democratic oversight. We cannot let our representatives legalize massive and uncontrolled spying of the French population by its own government's intelligence services.” declared Adrienne Charmet, campaign coordinator for La Quadrature du Net

“French elected representatives have a duty to forbid, not legalize, practices such as mass surveillance that are unacceptable in a democracy, as they massively infringe on individual freedoms. Citizens must now mobilize against this far-reaching and out of control attack on their most private lives conducted with the complicity of their elected officials.” concluded Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.