Monday 29 December 2014

French Government Quietly Enacts Controversial Surveillance Law On Christmas Eve


Techdirt has noted that the NSA chose to release embarrassing details of its illegal surveillance of Americans on Christmas Eve. By an interesting coincidence, the French government picked the same date to enact a hugely controversial new surveillance law, which had been passed back in 2013, and will now enter into operation almost immediately, at the start of 2015. One of its most troubling aspects is the vagueness of its terms. As reported by Le Point, here's what can be collected (original in French):
Information or documents processed or retained by electronic communications networks or services, including technical data related to the identification of subscription numbers or connections to electronic communications services, the inventory of all subscription numbers or connection of a designated person, location of the terminal equipment used as well as a subscriber's communications including the list of numbers called and callers, duration and timing of communications.
Not unnaturally, the very broad but vague powers granted here have been met with protests in France, and so the government has provided an oversight body, supposedly to ensure these powers are not abused. However, as Le Point explains, although the CNCIS ("National Control Commission for Security Interceptions") can demand to see any information about how the law is being used, it has no power to sanction anyone, or even alert the authorities that abuse has taken place. It is nothing more than a fig leaf, in other words, and offers zero protection for the "liberty" part of France's national motto. 


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