French Parliament approved Surveillance Law to prevent terrorist attack

May 6, 2015 12:46 IST

The French Parliament on 5 May 2015 approved a surveillance law that strengthens the intelligence services of the country.

The aim behind approving the law is to prevent terrorist attacks.

The law on intelligence-gathering adopted by 438 votes to 86, was drafted after three days of Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January 2015, in which 17 people were killed.

The law will now be examined by the senate.

Features of the Surveillance Law
• It allows intelligence agencies to tap phones and emails without judicial permission from judges
• It defines the purposes for which secret intelligence-gathering may be used
• Sets up a supervisory body, the National Commission for Control of Intelligence Techniques (CNCTR), with wider rules of operation
• It authorises new methods, such as the bulk collection of metadata via internet providers
• It allows placement of cameras and recording devices in private homes of suspects along with keylogger devices that record every key stroke on a targeted computer in real time by Intelligence services
• It allows authorities to keep recording for a month and metadata for five years
• It allows intelligence services to vacuum up metadata, which would then be subject to analysis for potentially suspicious behavior
It says that the metadata would be anonymous but could be followed by intelligence agents with a request to an independent panel for deeper surveillance that could yield the identity of users
• It allows authorities to force the internet providers to install so-called black boxes or complex algorithms to flag up a succession of suspect behavioural patterns online, like keywords used, sites visited and contacts made

The new law, especially the action of tapping phones and emails, has sparked protests in the country terming that the legalisation of the intrusive surveillance method surpasses the individual freedom and privacy. In wake of the law, the protesters for civil liberties group launched a campaign under banner 24 hours before 1984 in reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel about life under an all-knowing dictatorship.

The new Surveillance Law of France is similar to mass surveillance Patriot Act of the United States which was introduced in the backdrop of 9/11 attacks. Although, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, defended the bill by saying that a law was needed to take into account the communication technology.

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