Unacceptable Surveillance of French Citizens soon to be Adopted!

Paris, 17 April 2015 — The examination of French Intelligence Bill ended this Thursday at the National Assembly. After 4 days of debate, very few enhancements were made to a text that was denounced by an incredibly large number of groups for its dangerous, intrusive and liberty-infringing nature and whose control dispositions are totally inadequate. La Quadrature du Net calls on French representatives to listen to the citizens' demands to reject this text during the final vote on 5 May.

On 5 May, the final version of Intelligence Bill will be submitted to the National Assembly for adoption during a solemn vote. It will then be sent to the Senate for a single reading, as required by the emergency procedure

Whereas many questions raised during the public discussion did not receive satisfying answers from the Government and the Parliament, the main worrying elements of the text were all adopted:

  • mass legalisation of Intelligence services illegal practices, allowing for surveillance both very wide and very intrusive of the privacy of citizens, as well as very long retention periods of the collected data
  • extension of the scope of Interior and Foreign Intelligence, with extremely far-reaching and democratically dangerous purposes
  • provisions allowing the generalised collection of citizens' data on the Internet in order to sort “suspicious behaviours” through algorithms
  • establishment of an “international surveillance” regime for communications “broadcasted or received abroad”, which will therefore massively impact French residents and bypass the weak safeguards afforded for national surveillance
  • implementation of a control commission which only has a consultative opinion on the interception requests. Those requests remain in the hands of the political power (French Prime Minister).

The too few representatives who opposed rapporteur Urvoas and Interior, Justice and Defense Ministers have received evasive or vague answers to their very precise questions on technical and legal details.

The government, facing persistent opposition from both inside and outside of the Parliament, tried many times during the week to regain control of the situation. For instance, it extended the number of MPs that make up the future CNCTR1. It also accepted to exempt protected professions from emergency procedures and met with a group of large French webhosters so it could then pretend to amend the article which allows for installing spying devices on the network. In no way can these cosmetic and opportunistic modifications satisfy the defenders of public liberties. The text's general balance was not updated and it remains unacceptable in a democracy.

“During the vote on next 5 May, French representatives must reject this bill. They were forced by the government to examine at a breakneck speed a law supposed to give a general framework to French Intelligence services and which will have a great impact on public liberties. We invite citizens to contact one by one their Members of Parliament during the next two weeks until the solemn vote in order to convince them to vote against this law.” declared Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. The Commission Nationale de Controle des Techniques de Renseignement (CNCTR), or National Control Commission of Intelligence Technics, is the independant administration in charge of controlling the use and set-up of surveillance methods.