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[FirstLook] France Targeted by NSA Spies and Parliament Passes Surveillance Law

PARIS — On Wednesday, France woke up to find that the National Security Agency had been snooping on the phones of its last three presidents. [...]

Yet also today, the lower house of France’s legislature, the National Assembly, passed a sweeping surveillance law. The law provides a new framework for the country’s intelligence agencies to expand their surveillance activities. Opponents of the law were quick to mock the government for vigorously protesting being surveilled by one of the country’s closest allies while passing a law that gives its own intelligence services vast powers with what its opponents regard as little oversight. But for those who support the new law, the new revelations of NSA spying showed the urgent need to update the tools available to France’s spies. [...]

Until the law was passed, France’s intelligence services operated almost without any laws to regulate them. Although the new law delivers a much-needed framework, its safeguards are regarded by many critics as insufficient. The powers of the oversight body in charge of the intelligence agencies have been slightly strengthened and it will be possible, if a citizen suspects she is being surveilled, to take her case before the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest court. But other parts of the law have drawn controversy, including the way it defines the purposes the government can invoke to surveil French residents. The categories extend well beyond terrorism. Many opponents of the law think these guidelines are so broad that they could enable political surveillance. But the key point of disagreement is what the government calls “black boxes.” The law allows the use of government equipment inside Internet Service Providers and large web companies to analyze streams of metadata and find “terrorist” patterns and behaviors. [...]

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/24/france-protests-nsa-spying...