France’s government is giving the police more surveillance power

The French government is going to grant law enforcement the power to spy on suspects through smartphones and other devices.

French legislators are going to approve a justice reform bill that also gives more power to law enforcement, allowing them to spy on suspects through their smartphones and other electronic devices.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, law enforcement will be allowed to use spyware for their investigation, the software can remotely spy on the suspects using the microphone and camera of the devices and also collect their GPS location.

The Assemblée Nationale has approved the measure, which forms one of the articles encompassing multiple provisions.

The Justice Minister attempted to reassure the citizens by explaining that this power will be used for the investigation of a limited number of cases a year.

“Part of a wider justice reform bill, the spying provision has been attacked by both the left and rights defenders as an authoritarian snoopers’ charter, though Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti insists it would affect only “dozens of cases a year.”” reads the article published by Le Monde.

“”We’re far away from the totalitarianism of 1984,” George Orwell’s novel about a society under total surveillance, Dupond-Moretti said. “People’s lives will be saved” by the law, he added.”

The police can use multiple means to gather data from the suspects’ devices, including laptops, mobile phones, car entertainment systems, and other IoT objects.

In a statement issued in May, digital rights group La Quadrature du Net expressed serious concerns regarding the provisions, citing potential infringements on fundamental liberties. The group highlighted the importance of protecting the privacy of the citizens. The digital rights group believes that the proposal is a significant step towards excessive security measures, signaling a troubling trend.

This week MPs in President Emmanuel Macron’s camp inserted an amendment that limits the use of surveillance power to serious crimes and for a strictly proportional duration. The amendment states that any surveillance activity must be approved by a judge and cannot exceed six months. The amendment also states that sensitive professions such as doctors, journalists, lawyers, judges and MPs would not be legitimate targets.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, French government, surveillance)
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