Ref. :  000038187
Date :  2015-03-25
Language :  English
Home Page / The whole website
fr / es / de / po / en

Human rights organisations alarmed by bill that will give surveillance agencies dangerous new powers

Author :  FIDH

Privacy International, Amnesty International, FIDH, the French League for Human Rights and Reporters Without Borders are alarmed by the expansive surveillance powers to be granted to surveillance agencies contained in a Bill transferred to the French parliament on Friday.
Under the new law, French intelligence agencies would be empowered to hack into computers and devices and spy on the communications of anyone who makes contact with a person under suspicion, even incidentally. The new law will enable them to do this without having to obtain a judicial warrant.

Our organisations express their strong concern at the Bill’s proposal to install surveillance technology at internet service providers and telecommunications companies to analyse all internet activity against specific algorithms set by the government. Such mass surveillance systems will undermine internet users’ privacy, have the potential to chill free expression, and could be subject to serious abuse.

The Bill places unprecedented power in the hands of the Prime Minister’s office, empowering it to authorise all forms of surveillance without having to seek the authorization of a court. While the law provides for the establishment of an expanded National Commission for the Control of Intelligence Techniques, the Commission’s recommendations would not be binding on the Prime Minister and his or her delegates. By removing early judicial control of surveillance, the Bill not only represents a serious incursion into the privacy of ordinary people, but further increases the risk of abuse. It could also exacerbate the risks mass surveillance poses for those who work on sensitive issues and rely on confidential sources, including journalists and human rights organizations.

The foreign surveillance powers granted by the Bill are vast and echo those currently being legally challenged in the UK. They empower the French Prime Minister to order the interception of communications that are emitted or received from outside France. The technical measures that intelligence agencies can implement would be decided by the State Council in an unpublished decree, according to the draft Bill.

In addition to the proposed bulk filtering measures, the Bill grants government agencies a number of other dangerous surveillance powers:

• The ability for intelligence agents to hack into devices and computers, as a technique of last resort, is explicitly provided for in the Bill. Hacking is an extremely intrusive form of surveillance and its use by any State authorities, particularly intelligence agencies, must be highly regulated to protect against abuses of power, yet the Bill makes no provision for judicial authorisation or oversight of hacking powers.

• The Bill empowers the intelligence agencies to use “proximity sensors” in field surveillance in order to ascertain the location and identification of particular people. This provision is an attempt empower French intelligence agencies to use IMSI catchers, according to the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes, the French data protection authority, which was able to push the government to include a number of additional protections in the Bill prior to its publication. IMSI catchers are mobile interception devices that are subject to US and European export controls, and have recently come under close scrutiny in US courts and legislatures. The Bill stipulates that IMSI catchers can be used for collecting the live geolocation information of individuals using their devices. Because IMSI catchers are not targeted devices but identify and geolocate individuals within a given locale (such as a plaza or an airport) this would inevitably facilitate the surveillance of individuals who are not suspected of any crime;

• The electronic communications of anyone incidentally connected with a person of suspicion – including through passing offline or online connections or encounters – are liable to be intercepted and examined by the intelligence agencies under new powers introduced by the Bill.

The organisations are calling on the French parliament to give the Bill robust scrutiny in the coming weeks to ensure French law complies with international human right law and standards on surveillance.

Carly Nyst, Legal Director at Privacy International, said: “The introduction of this law only two months after the Charlie Hebdo tragedy is an attempt to broaden surveillance powers under the guise of preventing terrorism. Increased security does not have to come at the price of reduced privacy. And the threat of terrorism must not be used to justify the mass monitoring of every French internet user’s activity. Should all of the proposed measures pass through the parliament without strong scrutiny and examination, France will be well on its way to becoming a surveillance state, and at the same time we will not be any safer from terrorist attacks.”

Joshua Franco, Researcher on Technology and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said: "France cannot let the quest for security come at the cost of respecting the human rights to free expression and privacy. These broad and invasive surveillance powers would not be subject to meaningful oversight and may lead to people censoring themselves online.”

Karim Lahidji, FIDH President, said: “We are highly concerned about the lack of judicial supervision over these provisions, which gives the Government the power to authorise wide surveillance of any individual without any possibility to judicially challenge these measures. We are also concerned about the growing tendency to abuse anti-terrorism rhetoric to infringe on liberties.”

Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, said: “We demand that this law include safeguards for the right of journalists to work without being spied on, or else it will constitute a grave violation of media freedom. The government must restore protection for the confidentiality of journalists’ sources by bringing reference to a judge back into the established procedures. It is vital that an exception be made for journalists in the system of surveillance envisaged in this bill.”

Pierre Tartakowsky, LDH President, said: “Only an effective and proportionate control of intelligence techniques, carried out prior to the authorization of the measures, and for a purpose strictly defined and relevant to national security, will be effectively in accordance with fundamental rights.”

Countries : 
- France   

Rate this content
Average of 5 ratings 
Rating 2.20 / 4 MoyenMoyenMoyenMoyen
Same author:
 flecheCondemned to silence: the situation of women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia
 flecheThe United Nations Counter-Terrorism Complex: Bureaucracy, Political Influence, Civil Liberties
 flecheHonduras: Protected Areas and Water Resources Threatened by the Granting of Licences for Hydroelectric Plants
 flecheHuman Rights Coalition Calls on ICC to Investigate Role of Chiquita Executives in Contributing to Crimes against Humanity
 flecheGuide des 100 mesures pour l’éradication des violences à l’encontre des femmes
 flecheReport reveals links between five French banks and insurance companies and the Israeli settlements
 flecheBelarus: last country in Europe to carry out the death penalty
 flecheEU Decision: All citizens with a home larger than 60m2 will have to take in a migrant
 flecheHonduras: Human rights defenders between a rock and a hard place
 fleche[COMIC STRIP] Violence Against Women in Africa
 flecheColombie, The human cost of Oil :
 flecheDeath Penalty: Compilation of FIDH and leagues press releases from 2013 to 2016
 flecheReport slams year-long application of state of emergency in France
 flecheFIDH looks back at 2015 in our traditional comic strip
 flecheBeing born a girl means clearing a lot of hurdles
 flecheThe Amesys Case: the victims anxious to see tangible progress
 flecheMake way for Justice #2: 40 cases to understand universal jurisdiction
 flecheBeing born a girl means clearing a lot of hurdles
 flecheCriminalization of human rights defenders: an alarming phenomenon in Latin America
 flecheBurundi conflict: A timeline of how the country reached crisis point
 flecheFive years after the revolution : Egypt’s Poorest Human Rights Record in its Modern History
 flecheAsia and human rights: debunking the myths
 flecheOp-Ed: TTIP and UN Treaty – the EU must stand up for Human Rights
 flecheBetween Round-ups and Regularisation: Morocco’s Vacillating Migration Policy
 flecheBeijing +20: Broken promises, women’s rights under threat across the globe
 fleche“Whether or not you want to, you have to go”
 flecheCambodia : Sentence of 2 former Khmer Rouge leaders to life imprisonment is historic
 flecheIsrael-OPT: A New Cycle of Violence whose Targets are Civilians
 flecheCentral African Republic, "They must all leave or die". Investigative report: Answering war crimes with crimes against humanity
 flecheEgypt: Epidemic of sexual violence continues
 flecheInternational day of the disappeared 2011
 flechePosition paper on the creation of a new UN mechanism on laws that discriminate against women
 flecheSteadfast in protest - 2010 Annual Report
 flecheFirst victims recognised by the International Criminal Court
Keywords   go
Translate this page Traduire par Google Translate

Share on Facebook
Partager sur Twitter
Share on Google+Google + Share on LinkedInLinkedIn
Partager sur MessengerMessenger Partager sur BloggerBlogger
Other items
where is published this article: