French Intelligence can now monitor internet users in real time

In a law that passed wednesday, French officials can now monitor in real time what French internet users are viewing, without previous authorization. The new law passed with little notice from the public, “will enable a wide range of public officials including police, gendarmes, intelligence and anti-terrorist agencies as well as several government ministries to monitor computer, tablet and smartphone use directly” says the Guardian.

Only weeks after the French government expressed outrage at NSA officials intercepting phone calls in France, the French government  which considers individual privacy a pillar of human rights, passed this “spying law”. This law allows many different officials to discover not only who is communicating what, but where they are located as well. Though fears of abuse were common in the French Assemble, the bill passed with a 164-146 majority on wednesday and is now law. Government officials say that the bill “is necessary to combat terrorism, organized crime and economic or scientific espionage, and to protect national security.”

Though safeguards are in place, like independent monitoring by CNCIS and the french parliament, many are fearful this will be abused and lead to public outrage similar to the NSA spying in the U.S. The CNCIS criticized the inaction of the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique and Liberties, which is supposed to protect individual liberties in cases like this.

Loïc Riviere, Secretary General of the French Association of Software and Internet Solutions Editors (AFDEL) said “Recent scandals have already made [internet] users wary, and this law does nothing to reassure them. What worries our members is that if data confidentiality is not assured users might put their data elsewhere in the world where security is more lax.”

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