France,  Freedom & Liberty

How the French Intelligence new law could be a very dangerous reform

This is a guest post by Cyril Rolling

The bill was drafted shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attacks that happened in Paris five months ago. AQMI, the North African branch of Al Quaida, claimed responsibility for these assaults. That is why French authorities felt threatened as far as national security issues were concerned. Manuel Valls, the Prime Minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, the Minister of the Interior, both called for a new legal framework to fight terrorism.
The reality is that there was not any legal framework for French Intelligence agencies to work within. It was a very special situation since in the wake of 9/11 most countries in the world adopted rules to control the way to develop means against every kind of terrorism. For example the much criticized Patriot Act gives important powers to the American government and national agencies to monitor people or companies and to act so they can prevent and master every threat. In a sense France was out of step in not having tightened up its own security framework earlier.

The opponents of this new law maintain that the Government is going to be able to spy on every citizen since the new rules allow mass-surveillance. This could strip French people of their privacy. This is especially true as what is called “black box” is going to be installed in all Internet Service Provider servers. These black boxes will collect all the data used so the Government could check it out. Why not spying on suspected political opponents?

Some professions have particular concerns about the way they will deal with this Big Brother Law. This is the case of journalists and lawyers who really need to be sure that their conversations will remain private. It is very hard to imagine that France, a country that is always claiming its superiority as far as human rights are concerned because of historical reasons, cannot protect its citizens against its own spy services.

In my opinion we are currently living under the rule of law. I think that European Governments are democratic and that our representatives really try to do the best they can in a global and competitive context. I am not trying to say that this law is criminal itself.

In a global context this law is very surprising since the United States have just adopted the Freedom Act which limits the powers that were given by the Patriot Act in 2001. Fourteen years after the 9/11 national security and privacy are still major issues in every developed country.