PASP Decrees: first battle lost against the massive surveillance of political activists

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On 4th January 2020, the Conseil d’Etat (the French highest administrative authority) rejected the appeals urgently lodged by several associations (to which we had contributed) against the three decrees PASP, GIPASP and EASP (more explanations can be found here). Therefore the massive surveillance of political activists, their entourage, their political opinions as well as their health data will not be suspended. Indeed, since the files are being extended by a regulatory text, only the Conseil d’Etat had the power to stop the government’s security ambitions – which it has just refused to do, at least for now. This refusal reveals the failure of the system which claims to supervise police files: the only counter-power placed against the ambitions of the police is a Conseil d’Etat which, on security issues, is regularly lacking independence vis-a-vis the government and showing permissiveness in the application of the law (as in this decision, with a legal demonstration as brief as confusing).

This decision also marks a new stage in the forfeiture of the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL): Besides its very reserved non-binding opinions regarding these police files , the CNIL had nevertheless released a statement criticizing the fact that it had not been able to give its opinion on the listing of political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership. The Conseil d’Etat dismissed this argument in only one paragraph, without any real explanation.

However, this decision is not final. The appeal that the Conseil d’Etat rejected was only to suspend the decrees while the administrative court was to examine the annulment of the decrees. So an annulment of the decrees is still possible.

The battle is not yet lost. At the end of December, together with many associations, we filed our three appeals for annulment against these decrees. A decision is expected in a few months.