New French anti-terrorism surveillance plans

By EDRi · September 8, 2005

The French newspaper Le Monde has a number of articles on new plans from the French government for anti-terrorism legislation. On 6 September the Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin presented a rough impression of 16 new measures to the members of parliament. The package will be presented to the Council of Ministers in October 2005.

Some of the proposed measures are:

-An extension of the scope of camera surveillance, to include the possibility to film the public streets in front of certain organisations that ‘are exposed to the risk of terrorist acts’. In this context, specifically synagogues and confessional schools are mentioned, but local authorities may also order industry and public transport to do the same. Le Monde bluntly states that this intention clearly shows that terrorism is used as a pretext by de Villepin, since he tried to introduce such broader surveillance powers before he became Prime minister. The camera images will have to be kept for 1 month.

-France will introduce mandatory data retention of telephony traffic data for one year. Though France has a framework law that would allow government to introduce data retention measures, the government has not yet done so, like most other governments in the EU.

-Access to all European passenger data. Le Monde quotes an anonymous declaration that “it is paradoxical that the USA have all the information on EU flights and EU countries don’t”…

-While biometrics are not explicitly mentioned, it seems that the ministry of the interior wants the secret and security services to have full access to all kinds of “administrative files” (ID cards, resident cards, passports, vehicles number plates, etc.). They would “secure” this access by introducing “traceability of the file consultation”.

The most important measure from the ministry of Justice is an increase in prison sentence for people aiding terrorists from 10 to 20 years, and from 20 to 30 years for network leaders. Currently, Le Monde reports, 358 people have been convicted or accused of an activist offence. 300 of them have been indicted under the provision “criminal association in relation to a terrorist offence”. 159 of them are from the Bask territory, 94 are Islamic and 76 Corsican.

Le projet de loi inclut des mesures pour renforcer les moyens d’enquête et de prévention (07.09.2005, short access period),40-0@2-3226,50-686446,0.html

Le gouvernement veut punir plus sévèrement les terroristes (08.09.2005, short access period),40-0@2-3226,50-686442,0.html

(Thanks to Meryem Marzouki, EDRI-member IRIS, France)

(Mistake corrected on 9 September: Villepin is Prime Minister, not Minister of the Interior anymore.)