France: Constitutional Council to rule on controversial surveillance law

Ruling is last chance for privacy rights

Spokespeople available for interview

France’s Constitutional Council is to rule this week on a draft Intelligence Bill that would grant the authorities expansive surveillance powers.

The law would give the prime minister the power to allow authorities to hack into computers or mobile devices, track peoples’ locations and spy on emails, without judicial approval.
Although the law has been approved by both houses of parliament, there has been fierce opposition to the proposals from rights groups, judges, tech companies, trade unions, lawyers and parliamentarians, as well as international human rights bodies.

France is on the brink of becoming a country where anyone’s communications could be spied on, anytime, anyplace, and without even the need for a judge’s approval.

Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia

“France is on the brink of becoming a country where anyone’s communications could be spied on, anytime, anyplace, and without even the need for a judge’s approval,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
“This law would be a major blow for human rights in France, at a time when it is becoming very clear to people around the world that mass surveillance must be stopped.

“This law was supposed to fence in surveillance with clear checks and balances, instead it would give the authorities free rein to do away with people’s privacy.”

To arrange an interview with Amnesty International spokespeople, please call Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or +44 (0)77 7847 2126.

Background:

French rights groups, including Amnesty International France, said the Intelligence Bill was unconstitutional in a submission to the Constitutional Council on 10 July. The submission warned that the law lacks clarity, has ill-defined grounds for surveillance, lacks independent oversight and means of redress for victims, leaving the door open to arbitrary abuse of surveillance powers. The submission also criticized the way the bill was rushed through parliament using an accelerated procedure.

Amnesty International highlighted the major problems with the Intelligence Bill on 4 May, ahead of vote in the national Assembly.