France: New 'anti-terror' bill attacked as undemocratic

Rights group says powers granting intelligence agents access to people's phones and internet communications will 'create suspicion'.

France: New 'anti-terror' bill attacked as undemocratic

World Bulletin / News Desk

Pro-democracy campaigners have attacked a controversial draft "anti-terror" law which grants more power to intelligence services in France.

The criticism came on Thursday after French Prime Minister Manuel Valls unveiled the bill, which allows intelligence agents to directly monitor citizens' personal phone and Internet information.

Valls told a press conference in Paris that he had presented the draft law to the Council of Ministers and it would be submitted "soon" to the parliament.  

He said the bill, which can force communication companies to sift through clients’ phone and Internet data, would not allow "mass surveillance and will not be a French Patriot Act".

Deadly attacks

Valls said that such a law was "necessary" and France was "one of the last democracies not to regulate its intelligence services by law".

The bill gives Intelligence agencies the power to have real time access to connection data, content of emails, key loggers and phone or mobile geo-location without seeking permission from a judge.

The bill calls also for the creation of a new administrative body, the National Committee of Intelligence Technical Control (CNCTR), composed of nine members, including four judges, four MPs and a specialist in electronic communication, which will be particularly responsible for verifying the compliance of monitoring measures with law.

He said the bill was "not a last-moment answer" to latest the deadly attacks in Paris in early January in which 17 people died as "the decision to legislate Intelligence services had been made by French President Francois Hollande in July 2014".

'Mobilize' call

But French Internet rights group La Quadrature du Net, a French non-profit association which defends the rights and freedom of citizens on the Internet, said the draft law was a threat to fundamental civil rights. 

The group said in a statement: "The French parliament should do their duty of controlling, reasoning and of defending the civil rights of citizens against this dangerous bill, and calls citizens on to mobilize against it."

The association said experience worldwide proved that mass surveillance did not lower the risk of violent crimes.

"The path taken by the French government is bound to establish a new era of general suspicion, marking an historical withdrawal from the separation of powers and fundamental rights," it said.

La Quadrature du Net said that if the bill is adopted by the French parliament "the conditions for a correct exercise of democracy in France will no longer be met".

Last Mod: 19 Mart 2015, 18:31
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