Wouter Moraal, our European Advocacy coordinator, holding the petition in front of the French Permanent Representation to the EU.
Today, we delivered a petition to the French Senate opposing yet another surveillance bill, which is up for a vote on Tuesday 27 October. Thousands of internet users urged the senate to reject the bill, citing violations of the fundamental right to privacy and freedom of expression. The bill has already passed the lower chamber of the French Parliament earlier this month.
As we detailed earlier this month, the bill — called projet de loi sur la surveillance des communications internationales — is an attempt to repackage a clause from the Intelligence Act (a.k.a. the French Patriot Act) that was declared unconstitutional over the summer. Now that the surveillance bill has been adopted in the lower chamber, it will be considered by the French Senate, which is set to vote on October 27. Access strongly opposes this bill, and along with several dozen other NGOs and digital rights groups, we sent an open letter to members of the French Parliament to articulate our concerns.
Specifically, we point out that the bill institutionalises privacy infringement globally, provides limited independent oversight, and is disproportionate in scope as it enables the authorities to tap into the French undersea cables to massively collect internet communications data. Further, the bill introduces excessive and unjustified data retention mandates, for periods of up to eight years. This appears to be in direct contradiction with the Court of Justice of the European Union’s ruling in April 2014 that invalidated the Data Retention Directive.
The bill was introduced by two French members of the Parliament, Patricia Adam and Philippe Nauch, who argued that these overarching surveillance measures are essential to guarantee so-called French interests that cannot be protected through domestic surveillance alone. The two Parliamentarians however neglected to mention the fact that French intelligence services already have been and continue to conduct mass surveillance in many foreign countries, relying on a secret executive order that was revealed by the French media last year.