No one likes to be the subject of surveillance, but the fact is that we all are. But France is a special case, as was Germany a few months ago. Neither of these two Eurpean countries enjoys being snooped on by the NSA, but they do exercise their own power to spy with unlimited might on their own citizens.
After leaked documents revealed that the United States had spied on German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and after the US denied such practice in a categorical way, we now know that the NSA also spied on the last three French presidentes. This, of course has also been denied by the US presidente, Barack Obama.
The French were not pleased after they learned they had been, as a government, spied on by the US, however, the very own French Parliament, with the collaboration of Prime Minister Manuel Valls, now has thrown its support behind a new spying bill that has no legal limits whatsoever.
The initiative to allow full spying capabilities on anyone and without judicial controls was presented and promoted by Valls himself two months ago and the French Parliament gave the green light to establish the same kind of spying practices seen in Police States such as the United States to be used indiscrimnately.
The justification for giving the French government a blank check on surveillance without any kind of oversight is the same that other governments have given since 9/11: “National Security and the need to protect the Homeland”.
The controversial French law enables massive telephone and cyber tracking of data without judicial control now that the National Assembly approved amendments to favor the proposal which politicians in France say is “essential” to the government, but suicidal to its detractors, which include various human rights organizations.
The debate coincided with the scandal emerged after the confirmation that the highest French leaders, including the last three presidents have been spied on by the American National Security Agency (NSA).
Critics compared the law to the US Patriot Act, which after 9/11expanded the powers of the intelligence agencies in that country. In a move that is consider insufficient to protect civil liberties, President François Hollande had announced he would send the legal text for review to the Constitutional Court.
According to the new law, born shortly after the jihadist attacks last January in Paris, telecom operators, search engines and social networks must install a kind of black box for any suspicious behavior. The data obtained will be automatically transmitted to the information services for analysis. This is the same type of system implemented in the United States, where telecom companies serve as data collectors for the NSA -many say they are completely controlled by the NSA- which in turn vacuums all the data from their servers to snif it all of it.
French agents, hitherto are not covered by the law in many of its practices, may use systems called Imsi Catcher. With them, they can capture and record data from phones or computers of alleged suspects without a warrant and of all who may be connected or not to that suspect. They may also be used, now legally, to bug private places or to attach markers to track cars. The agentes may eve enter private homes if they see fit.
At the last moment, the Assembly removed a clause introduced last week by the socialists which would have given the legal basis for spies to snoop on foreigners visiting France with only the authorization of the Prime Minister.
Applications for espionage practices can be carried out by the ministers of Defense, Economy, Finance, Justice and Interior. The requests will be sent to a National Control Commission for Information Technology composed by four MPs, two members of the State Council, two judges and a computer expert. If these members do not see any objections, the Commission will send requests to the prime minister, who will then rubber stamp the requests.
Michael T. Snyder is a graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia and has a law degree and an LLM from the University of Florida Law School. He is an attorney that has worked for some of the largest and most prominent law firms in Washington D.C. and who now spends his time researching and writing and trying to wake the American people up. You can follow his work on The Economic Collapse blog, End of the American Dream and The Truth Wins. His new novel entitled “The Beginning Of The End” is now available on Amazon.com.