Today the French National Assembly approved a dangerous new proposal which would allow intelligence services to violate user privacy and harm freedom of expression. The so-called “French Patriot Act” was first introduced shortly after the killings at the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January of this year. Sadly, the government used the killings as a pretext to push forward legislation that will give the intelligence services the ability to monitor communications with almost no judicial oversight.
French civil society groups, led by the NGO La Quadrature du Net, launched a major national campaign to help oppose the Information Law (le projet de loi relatif au renseignement.) Access helped support the campaign with nearly 3,000 signatures from our members, which we delivered in a petition to the President of the French National Assembly before the crucial vote.
France has already expanded its surveillance capacity twice in the past 14 months, yet the new bill was introduced through an emergency procedure which removes any possibility of needed democratic debate. We argued after the tragic killings in January that Charlie Hebdo should not be used to trample human rights.
As we have seen in the U.S. with the USA PATRIOT Act, and in other countries around the world, once a repressive bill is passed it can be used for decades to target users. The world mourned after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, but allowing mass surveillance of all citizens is the wrong response.
The bill was approved by a vote of 438 to 86. You can read more about the troubling provisions in the text at our blog post here.