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New Measures Against Terrorism: No Doublespeaking On Liberties!

Paris, January 26, 2015 — After the attacks of 7 and 9 January, French Prime Minister Valls announced this morning a series of measures to "fight against terrorism". Given this long speech evoking increased information retention and surveillance, La Quadrature du Net recalls that many recent announcements prepare a further decline of civil liberties on the Internet, and calls for greater political and citizen alertness on the measures to be implemented.

Manuel Valls may see himself reassuring when he speaks of a better framework to monitor of communications, or when he makes a theoretical division between "exceptional measures" and the state of emergency. However, these rhetorical gestures can't hide the reality of institutionalized power that seeks to avoid any control of itself, and instead exploits the recent attacks to establish a most repressive legislative regime.1

While absurd and extremely severe sentences increase in the name of fighting against the glorification of terrorism; while the government continues to call for extra-judicial regulation of freedom of expression by lobbying web players on behalf of a "moral responsibility" on the propagation of recruitment radical speeches; while the Council of the EU is getting ready to challenge confidentiality and encryption of communications2 ; while even the facts contradict the role of the Internet concerning the radicalisation of the killers of Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher... a further decline of civil liberties clearly lies ahead.

"As illustrated last year by the forceful approval of the Defense Bill and by the latest law against terrorism, being "within the law" is not a guarantee in itself: it often allows legitimisation of unacceptable breaches in fundamental rights. The future law on Intelligence will therefore be blameless on the control and perimeter surveillance of communications, with a real safeguard of individual and public freedoms. Citizens must keep being vigilant to ensure that the fondness for freedom and tolerance expressed during the marches of 11 January is not used as bail to yet another round of safe living." Said Benjamin Sonntag, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. See the comparison of the existing legal framework in France with the Patriot Act applied to the United States: http://blogs.lexpress.fr/passe-droits/patriot-act/
  • 2. See the proposals of the European coordinator of the fight against terrorism in its preparatory note dated January 17: "Since the Snowden revelations, internet and telecommunications companies have started to use often de-centralized encryption which increasingly makes lawful interception by the relevant national authorities technically difficult or even impossible. The Commission should be invited to explore rules obliging internet and telecommunications companies operating in the EU to provide under certain conditions as set out in the relevant national laws and in full compliance with fundamental rights access of the relevant national authorities to communications (i.e. share encryption keys)."