Huge Threats to Fundamental Freedoms and Rights Consolidated in the French Parliament

Paris, 10 December 2013 — Despite the strong citizen mobilisation and the numerous reactions [fr] voiced against it, the French Senate just voted in second reading the controversial 2014-2019 Defense Bill and its dangerous terms without any changes. This vote closes parliamentary debate on this text: the French Constitutional Council alone can now alter the application of these measures infringing the basic rights of citizens. La Quadrature du Net strongly calls the members of the French Parliament to formally place the matter before the Constitutional Council for a decision on the conformity of this law to the French Constitution.

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By voting the 2014-2019 Defense Bill without any changes, the French Senators just closed parliamentary debates on the subject. Despite numerous warnings expressed by citizen organisations1 as well as public agencies2, the text adopted today will:

  • Authorise live capturing of data and documents (“that on request may be captured and transmitted in real time by operators and agents mentioned” [our translation]) by hosting services and service providers.
  • Allow the harvesting and capturing of “data and documents treated or stored by their networks or services” (our translation) and not solely the connection data.
  • Extend the list of public offices that may request surveillance, to include, for instance, the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
  • Extend the reasons for which surveillance may be requested to include information related to “the scientific and economic potential of France” and the prevention of “organised crime and delinquency” (our translations).

At this stage of the procedure, only the French Constitutional Council can stop the application of these measures opening the way to generalised surveillance of online information and communications. But this higher authority needs to be referred to by either 60 MPs, the Prime Minister or the President. La Quadrature du Net strongly calls on representatives of both chambers to hear appeals from citizens and to table a request for a constitutional review as soon as possible.

“In the context of Snowden's revelations on massive and generalised citizen surveillance, it is shocking to see the French Parliament adopt a text that enshrines the state of emergency and allows total abuse of citizen's privacy. Representatives must hear the call of civil society and activate recourse to the Constitutional Council” concludes Phillipe Aigrain, cofounder of La Quadrature du Net.