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European Policy, Government Surveillance

French Lawmakers Expand Electronic Surveillance Dramatically

Today, the French legislature finalized adoption of a new surveillance law – the ‘Projet de Loi relatif au Renseignement’ (roughly, the Intelligence Act). The law has been vigorously opposed by a wide coalition of NGOs, including the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT). The law was proposed by Prime Minister Manuel Valls in March 2015, and has been rushed through the French Senate and National Assembly on a fast-track procedure.

“This law expands the already very extensive surveillance capabilities of the French government, has incredibly insufficient judicial review, and enables surveillance for reasons beyond national security, including economic and foreign interests. In short, France now has one of the most privacy-invasive and least transparent surveillance regimes of any democratic nation,” said Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, CDT Director for European Affairs.

CDT has repeatedly called for countries in Europe and elsewhere to respect international legal standards for necessary and proportionate electronic government surveillance. This is especially true for states such as France that are bound by firm and specific European laws demanding respect for the rights to privacy and free expression.

“While the Snowden revelations have spurred well-informed public debate and actual reforms in the United States, Europe has failed to embrace a similar course of action. While swiftly condemning NSA surveillance programmes, European governments continue to embrace expansion of their surveillance authorities at home,” Jeppesen added. “It is high time for Europe to uphold its own human rights standards where these highly intrusive practices are concerned.”