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Intelligence Reform & The French Government's Disastrous Drift on Surveillance

Paris, 17 March 2015 — The information shared today by Le Figaro regarding the upcoming French Bill on Intelligence, ahead of its presentation before the Council of ministers on Thursday 19 March, only confirms earlier concerns. While this new law was announced as an important overhaul aimed at protecting fundamental rights, the securitarian instrumentalisation of the deadly events of January is bound to lead to an incredible drift in state surveillance practices. La Quadrature du Net calls on citizens and their elected representatives to oppose this bill.

Behavioural surveillance of all users by all sorts of technical intermediates in order to detect suspicious behaviours, real time access to connection data, access to the content of emails and key loggers etc.: the reach of the new powers to be given to law enforcement agencies (police, border-police, etc.) without any judiciary supervision is of an unprecedented scale.

Without drawing any lessons from the case law of the European Union Court of Justice, which condemns the overly long and broad retention of citizen's personal data, the bill will propose to rise up to five years of the retention of the data by intelligence services.

To control the dangerous restrictions of the fundamental right to privacy by surveillance and profiling, the government only plans a consultative commission with limited powers. Citizens will only be able to resort to a a posteriori procedure with no substantial due process guarantee.

While waiting on the formal adoption of the bill by the government, La Quadrature du Net already urges the members of the French parliament to do their duty of controlling, reasoning and of defending the civil rights of citizens against this dangerous bill, and calls citizens to mobilise against it.

While studies show that everywhere in the world mass surveillance does not lower the risk of violent crimes, the path taken by the French government is bound to establish a new era of general suspicion, marking historical drawback for the separation of powers and for fundamental rights. If the French parliament accept to pass these measures, the conditions for a correct exercise of democracy in France will not be met anymore.