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French Surveillance Bill: Public Liberties Abandoned as Senators Cast Disastrous Vote

Paris, 9 June 2015 – The Surveillance Bill was adopted today by the French Senate with 251 votes for, 68 against and 26 abstentions. This bill was fast tracked and discussed under the pressure of a government wielding the argument of an extreme terrorist risk to impose massive spying of the French population with expansive purposes. It will put France under a surveillance all at once diffuse, intrusive, indiscriminate and without effective control. La Quadrature du Net bitterly regrets the blindness of the French Parliamentarians and calls on citizens not to give up on their liberties.

Although opposition to the text was proportionally more important than in the National Assembly (French lower house), the Senators' vote followed the MPs' May 5th decision to adopt a text denounced as dangerous by a large number of civil liberties advocates, unions, judges and lawyers, journalists as well as a transpartisan and well-argued opposition within the lower house1.

During the entire parliamentarian debate, Bernard Cazeneuve did not hesitate to repeat over and over again his refusal to listen to the opposition while almost laying the blame of future terrorist acts on the critics, were the bill not to pass. Yielding to the constant pressure, the senators would not or could not protect the rights of the citizens they represent.

The “commission mixte paritaire” – a joint parliamentary commission responsible for reaching a compromise between the lower and upper house – which will sit in a few days to harmonise the text before its final adoption will only have the option to validate a law which:

  • broadly extends the field of action of intelligence services
  • massively legalises the French intel services' illegal practices
  • sets up mass surveillance systems
  • creates a committee to control interceptions with no real power

The bill creates no penalties for acts of illegal spying and no recourse for those affected nor possiblity to blow the whistle for those in the know2.

“We call on all Parliamentarians concerned by the constitutionality of this law and by public liberties to start preparing right now the bill's referral before the Constitutionnal Council and to keep working to stop the implementation of a law that goes against the fundamental rights of citizens and of democracy!” said Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. La Quadrature du Net wants to thank all the Parliamentarians, MPs and Senators from all parties, who courageously argued their opposition to the Surveillance Bill. By tabling a large number of amendments and defending them in a very responsible fashion, they helped support all those opposing the bill and carried to the heart of the Parliament the concerns and propositions of the citizens that were being met by contempt by the government and the rapporteurs.
  • 2. Only the people working in the intelligence services will be able to raise issues with, and only with the CNCTR (Nation Commission for the Control ef Intelligence Techniques).