Brussels – Access Now denounces the passage of the so-called “French Patriot Act” by the Senate in France. After widespread opposition from civil society groups and tech companies, the Information Bill (projet de loi relatif au renseignement) was passed by the upper chamber of Parliament.
“This is the third time in little over a year that France has expanded its surveillance powers,” said Estelle Massé, Policy Analyst at Access Now. “The bill is a dangerous assault on privacy and freedom of expression.”
The bill successfully passed the lower chamber of the French Parliament following a vote on May 5th. While a large majority of the assembly approved the bill, the 86 votes against and the 42 abstentions show that political opposition grew significantly. The day after the vote, the French Prime Minister even went so far as to complain about pressure from citizens and civil society that led to several MPs changing their votes. Yet grassroots mobilization was not enough to approval by the traditionally conservative legislative chamber of the Parliament.
“Civil society organizations widely opposed the bill, yet the Senate lacked the courage to listen,” Massé continued. “Our worst fears confirmed, the government used the tragedy of the Charlie Hebdo killings to pass draconian legislation.”
President François Hollande has previously promised to refer the bill to the Constitutional Council (Conseil Constitutionnel) before signing it into law.
“The French government did everything to limit public debate and ride roughshod over citizens’ legitimate concerns,” declared Raegan MacDonald, Access Now’ EU Policy Manager. “Our only hope now is that the French Constitutional Court will realise the incompatibility between this bill and French citizens’ right to privacy and free speech.”
Policy Analyst, Access Now
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