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The press review catalogues press articles related to la Quadrature's issues, compiled by its volunteers.
See also our French press review.

[ForeignPolicy] Le Petit Problème With France's New Big Brother

Can French intelligence agencies handle the terabytes of data that they just got permission to collect? [...]

The bill approved by a vote of 438 to 86, with 42 abstentions, has been intensely criticized by civil society groups and privacy activists for its embrace of mass surveillance in the form of what the French government calls “black boxes,” devices that will be installed on the servers of French Internet service providers to suck up data and spot terrorists engaging in suspicious behavior that might tip investigators to a possible attack. [...]

Given the vast expansion of surveillance, civil liberty activists are up in arms that the measure will undermine democratic norms. Félix Tréguer, a founding member of digital rights group La Quadrature du Net, said the bill “effectively legalizes mechanisms of mass surveillance” while at the same time failing to include the oversight mechanisms necessary to make the legal regime governing surveillance take into account human rights concerns or transparency. [...]

On this, French judges agree with rights activists. “This bill is unbalanced; it goes too far with no proper controls in place since most of the power will lie with the prime minister,” the judges’ union said in a statement. In stripping the bill of oversight powers while drafting it, Benichou said, French legislators had acted as if they were afraid of the judiciary.

For these reasons, the bill has often been described as the French version of the U.S. Patriot Act. And on many levels, that’s an appropriate analogy. Like its American counterpart passed in the panic of the 9/11 attacks and currently up for renewal the measure has been hurried through the legislature, despite its complicated, highly technical nature. “We’re talking about a surveillance program that goes way beyond counterterrorism but is being sold in the context of the trauma of a terrorist attack and justifies extraordinary means and procedures,” Douzet said. “The way it is being sold is very comparable.”

[Aljazeera] French Lawmakers Pass Spy Law

Lower house of Parliament passes spy bill that critics denounce for its highly intrusive surveillance methods. [...]

The new law would permit intelligence services to place cameras and recording devices in suspects' homes and beacons on their cars without prior authorization from a judge. [...]

One of the most sensitive measures would force communication and Internet firms to allow intelligence services to install electronic lock boxes to record metadata from all Internet users in France. The metadata would then be subject to algorithmic analysis for potentially suspicious behavior. [...]

[FT] French MPs back controversial surveillance bill

France’s intelligence services will gain sweeping powers after the country’s legislators backed a controversial bill legalising phone tapping and email interception, four months after the Islamist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people died. The bill, passed by 438 votes to 86 in the National Assembly with 42 abstentions, was opposed by many lawyers, judges and human rights activists who denounced the law as intrusive and lacking sufficient checks and balances. They have dubbed it France’s version of the US Patriot Act, passed after the September 11 2001 attacks on the US. […]

The bill allows French agents to plug “black boxes” directly into networks and servers owned by telecom and internet operators to monitor digital traffic and, in the case of suspected terrorists, monitor their behaviour with the help of algorithms that analyse suspects’ metadata. Opponents of the proposals have pointed to abuses disclosed by Edward Snowden and questioned their effectiveness in solving jihadism cases. All those responsible for the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, they point out, were known and tracked by intelligence services before the attack. […]

“The government is telling us they won’t store the data and that it will remain anonymous, but how do we know that?,” said Philippe Aigrain, a computer scientist and a member of the parliamentary commission on digital matters. Whistleblowers will face criminal charges, Mr Aigrain added. […]

[NYTimes] Lawmakers in France Move to Vastly Expand Surveillance

At a moment when American lawmakers are reconsidering the broad surveillance powers assumed by the government after Sept. 11, the lower house of the French Parliament took a long stride in the opposite direction Tuesday, overwhelmingly approving a bill that could give authorities their most intrusive domestic spying abilities ever, with almost no judicial oversight. […]

The provisions, as currently outlined, would allow them to tap cellphones, read emails and force Internet providers to comply with government requests to sift through virtually all of their subscribers’ communications. Among the types of surveillance that the intelligence services would be able to carry out is the bulk collection and analysis of metadata similar to that done by the United States’ National Security Agency. […]

But opponents, including one of France’s leading judges dealing with terrorism cases, Marc Trévidic, say that the law’s text contradicts the prime minister’s assurances. […] The editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo — a victim of the kinds of attack the measure is presumably meant to thwart — also criticized it. “I think that opportunistic laws are always bad laws,” the editor in chief, Gérard Biard, said in an interview at The New York Times Editorial Board. […]

The only judicial oversight is a provision that allows the commission to lodge a complaint with the Council of State, but lawyers are dubious that they could be convened on a routine basis. The Council of State functions as a legal adviser to the executive branch of government and a supreme court for matters of administrative law. […]

[DW] France set to join the spy game

French MPs are due to approve a bill reforming French intelligence law to counter terrorist threats. But critics warn that the draft law is a license to spy on citizens' private lives. Erin Conroy reports from Paris. [...]

The bill proposing a new set of intelligence-gathering measures would be the first update to France's current surveillance laws which date back to 1991, long before mobile phones and the Internet became mainstream. But experts say the government is going too far in spying on French citizens. [...]

Félix Tréguer, a founding member of Paris-based advocacy group La Quadrature du Net, says the language of the bill is simply too broad and does not define the motives under which intelligence authorities would be able to gain access to someone's information. He is also alarmed by the provisions for long data-retention periods.

"All of the legal challenges, checks and balances are veiled in secrecy, and in terms of avoiding abuse, it's going to be difficult," he says.

"There are several provisions in the bill which allow intelligence agencies to engage in hacking computers, servers or any computer equipment to have access to data and to copy that data, and this is a very concerning piece of it," he adds. "The kind of infringement of privacy by accessing someone's computer and copying data through Trojan horse-type viruses is very concerning." [...]

[LaStampa] Sorveglianza: dentro le scatole nere che agitano la Francia

Perché la nuova legge francese sull’intelligence spaventa la società civile. E come intende monitorare la Rete. […]

La questione è quella del disegno di legge sull’intelligence (loi sur le renseignement), che sarà votato dall’Assemblea nazionale il 5 maggio, e che - secondo i suoi numerosi critici - instaura l’era della sorveglianza di massa sotto la tour Eiffel. E infatti non mancano i paragoni con il Patriot Act, la legge americana varata dopo l’11 settembre che ha ristretto le libertà civili negli Stati Uniti aprendo la strada ai vasti programmi di monitoraggio delle comunicazioni della National Security Agency, emersi con il Datagate e le rivelazioni di Edward Snowden. […]

Come saranno individuati questi comportamenti sospetti? Qui entrano in gioco le “scatole nere” (”boîtes noires”), che stanno facendo impazzire anche gli stessi esperti di tecnologia perché nessuno ha ben chiaro cosa dovrebbero fare. Anche la genesi dell’espressione non è limpida: attribuita a una improvvida uscita di qualche consulente del governo, è stata subito adottata polemicamente dagli attivisti pro-privacy e dagli oppositori della legge, un fronte ampio che va dalle aziende IT ad avvocati e magistrati passando per Amnesty International. […]

«Non sappiamo esattamente come funzioneranno le scatole nere. È informazione classificata», commenta a La Stampa Tristan Nitot, fondatore di Mozilla Europe, ora nell’azienda di cloud computing CozyCloud e membro del Consiglio nazionale del digitale (Conseil national du numérique- CNNum). Ma si possono guardare i metadati senza guardare al contenuto? «Bella domanda. Quando il governo e i parlamentari parlano della legge dicono che raccoglie solo i metadati. Ma non dicono di quale tipo. Dicono che si tratterà di una raccolta più in superficie, che riguarda solo alcuni pattern nei dati di connessione, per cui sarebbero catturati solo alcuni indirizzi IP. Ma l’impressione, sentendo le loro stesse parole, è che vogliano fare una vera Deep packet inspection, che guarda a mittente e destinatario delle mail, oggetto delle stesse, parole chiave, pagine web visitate dagli utenti ecc». […]

[ArstTechnica] NSA spied on EU politicians and companies with help from German intelligence

Spies failed to check properly what was being passed across to the US. […]

Germany's intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has been helping the NSA spy on European politicians and companies for years, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel. The NSA has been sending lists of "selectors"—identifying telephone numbers, e-mail and IP addresses—to the BND, which then provides related information that it holds in its surveillance databases. According to the German newspaper Die Zeit, the NSA sent selector lists several times a day, and altogether 800,000 selectors have been requested. […]

The information about this activity has finally come out thanks to a long-running committee of inquiry, set up by the German Bundestag (federal parliament), which has been trying to get to the bottom of the NSA activities in Germany, and of the BND's involvement in them. The committee's investigation suggests that as many as 40,000 of the selectors were targeting European and German interests—far more than the 2,000 found by the BND. […]

[EurActiv] Outcry over French Intelligence Bill

Despite the heated debates around the implications of the French Intelligence Bill on civil liberties, a tentative agreement between right and left may guarantee its adoption. EurActiv France reports. […]

Civil society organisations spoke out against this unlikely alliance, which "robs the nation of its parliamentary system". Several dozen demonstrators denounced the "mass surveillance" proposed by the bill outside the National Assembly on Monday 13 April, before the debates began. If successful, the text would hugely increase the powers of the French intelligence services.

The major data hosts, including Ghandi and OVH, Europe's biggest host, have also criticised the bill for adding prohibitive layers of extra cost that could force them to relocate. […]

[Politico] Leaked digital single market’s ‘evidence file’ reveals Commission’s ambitions

Leaked copies of the upcoming Digital Single Market Strategy and its supporting Evidence file show the European Commission is ready to propose vast regulatory reforms that could affect everything from sales taxes and e-privacy to Internet searches and big data. […]

It’s no secret that a wide-scale review of copyright laws is in the works. An internal document drafted in February by the digital economy department reveals that a deal is being sought by the creative industries. The industries would loosen geo-blocking, meaning they would allow more consumers in other countries to buy products or access apps and websites. In exchange, the Commission would more aggressively enforce copyright. […]

Raising some eyebrows is the grouping in the strategy of examples of child abuse imagery and terrorism with copyright-offending material – a new development, and a signal that copyright infringement is about to be taken more seriously. […]

In a dig aimed at the Council, the Commission’s document pointedly identifies their failure to finalize a substantial Telecom Single Market package, known as “Connected Continent”. The inter-service version of the new plan, now circulating, confirms that the Commission is giving up on much of the Connected Continent and, for now, settling for a deal restricted to roaming and net neutrality. […]

[NYTimes] The French Surveillance State

[Opinion pages of the NYT] Prime Minister Manuel Valls of France has presented yet another antiterrorism bill to Parliament. French lawmakers, who overwhelmingly approved a sweeping antiterrorism bill in September, are scheduled to debate the new bill this month. [...]

Rights groups have warned that the bill, which includes the risk of “collective violence” and “the defense of foreign policy interests” among potential reasons for government surveillance, is too vague in defining who is a legitimate target. The bill also concentrates extraordinary power in the office of the prime minister by giving it, rather than judges, control over the approval process for surveillance requests from intelligence agencies. [...]

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