France pushes the introduction of EDVIGE project through the back door

By EDRi · October 21, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Frankreich verwirft die Einführung des EDVIGE-Projekts |]

The French Government produced two new decrees published in the Official
Journal on 18 October 2009 which actually resurrect the rejected EDVIGE plan
to create an intelligence database with personal data.

By-passing the French Parliament, the Minister of Interior Brice Hortefeux
introduced the two new decrees by practically splitting the former EDVIGE
decree which was withdrawn by the Government at the end of 2008, thus
creating two clones of the rejected project, as EDRi-member IRIS (Imaginons
un réseau Internet solidaire) explains.

One of the texts is meant as a tool for the police to prevent harm to public
safety, to “collect, store and analyze information concerning persons whose
individual or collective activity indicates that it may jeopardize public
safety.” Under the pretext of preventing harms to the
public security, the data collected may include complete personal data
ranging from nationality, profession, address or telephone numbers to
physical signs, travel behaviours or geographic origin. And this is not all
as the database will include also information on people who have come into
contact or relation with persons deemed susceptible of performing a criminal

The file is related to the public security and has nothing to do with
national security or terrorism. IRIS explains this is just a
disproportionate and illegal mean for the government to deal with petty and
medium delinquency. Moreover the data will be stored for everybody starting
with 13 years old. For minors, the retention period is limited to three
years as compared to a 10-year retention period for all the others.

The other text introduces a file of administrative investigations. It
includes personal data of citizens starting with the age of 16 (the official
age at which one person can be employed) in order to check out whether a
person’s behaviour is compatible with the tasks he is entrusted with, for
some sensitive jobs, like those in the security field. Data including
political, religious, philosophical and union information with be stored for
a minimum of 5 years.

Despite the obvious concerns related to the gathering of so many sensitive
data, the main subject of opposition is the so called “geographic origin”
which actually is a masked way of gathering information related to the
ethnic origin. “Replacing the ethnical criterion with that of geographic
origin is to take us as morons” stated Samuel Thomas, Vice-president of SOS

CRAN (The council representing the black associations of France) also
expressed its concern related to the geographic origin reference that they
consider only a way to go round the interdiction of making reference to the
ethnical origin and asked Hortefeux to remove any such reference from the

The only guarantee given by the government is that CNIL (The French Data
Protection Authority), which has already approved the two texts, will have
the control over the two databases but, according to the critics, this is
not very reassuring.

The “humour” of the Ministry of Interior of signing the two texts on 16
October, Saint Edwige’s day didn’t pass unnoticed. The “No to EDVIGE” group
publicly declared its decision to continue its fight against the two split
variants of EDVIGE project, including by starting mobilizing people against
it and to file appeals to the State Council.

No to EDVIGE, no its these two clones! IRIS release (only in French,

Two decrees recreate the EDVIGE Decree (20.10.2009)

“The Police needs files” (only in French, 18.10.2009)

Hortefeux creates two new police files (only in French, 18.10.2009)

Brice Hortefeux Hedwig resuscitated with 2 decrees published in OJ

A new version of Edvige? Clones of the previous text (only in French,

EDRi-gram: France: No to new EDVIGE! (1.07.2009)