Legal Complaints and Petition Against Second French "Horror Database"

By EDRi · December 2, 2009

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Deutsch: [Rechtliche Klagen und Petition gegen zweite französische „Horror-Datenbank“|]

The French coalition of groups, associations, trade unions and political
parties from the opposition is making it clear after its first successful
‘No to EDVIGE’ in 2008 led to the withdrawal of the EDVIGE intelligence
database by the French government, after a massive citizen mobilization
(more than 220.000 signatures of a first petition, including almost 1200
signatures from organizations, legal complaints, demonstrations, and all
possible democratic forms of protest). It now says ‘Hell no!’ to EDVIGE,
after the same government reintroduced almost the same database with two new
decrees published on 18 October 2009.

The coalition has launched a new petition on 30 November 2009, calling on
citizens to sign again against the new surveillance database. As things have
developed so far, the French civil society firmness against EDVIGE remains
intact: over only less than 3 days, more than 6100 individuals and 80
organizations have already signed, including main national associations,
trade unions, and political parties from the opposition. Main members of the
coalition, including French EDRI member IRIS, have filed legal complaints on
the same day against the French government, asking the highest
administrative Court (Conseil d’Etat) to annul the two new decrees. Other
coalition members are preparing to join this legal action.

The French anger is first due to the government contempt of the democratic
process: for the second time, Sarkozy’s government by-passed the Parliament
to introduce a surveillance database, despite its own commitment in 2008 to
have the creation of any new police file decided by the Parliament. Even
worse, Members of Parliaments belonging to the President’s majority voted on
24 November 2009 amendments to a draft law on ‘the simplification of the
legislation’, explicitly allowing such a creation by simple regulation.

Regarding the provisions of the decrees, the petition acknowledges the fact
that the previous mobilization has allowed to avoid in the new EDVIGE
database the collection of sensitive data related to sexual life and health.
This doesn’t prevent, however, the LGBT movement and organizations fighting
AIDS to take again part in the mobilization against all other EDVIGE
features remaining in the new database: it is an intelligence file, and no
infraction needs to be committed before being filed to ‘prevent violations
of public security’; children start being filed at 13; On top of the many
and, for some of them, sensitive data as defined by the French data
protection Act in accordance with the 1995 directive, that are collected
(identity, political, religious, philosophical activities as well as
activities related to trade-unions; public activities, behaviours and
movements; phone numbers and email addresses, vehicle registration, capital
assets, and others that were already in EDVIGE N°1), a mysterious
‘geographical origin’ has been added to the categories of collected data.
This latter category, which doesn’t correspond to any legal definition, has
been qualified as a masked way of gathering information related to the
ethnic origin, and anti-racist organizations have soon joined the second ‘No
to EDVIGE’ campaign.

EDRI previously reported that, during the Madrid Civil Society Conference on
Global privacy Standards held last November, Peter Schaar, the German
Federal Data Protection Commissioner, rightly underlined that “EDVIGE is a
horror database for us, because it includes many persons that did not breach
any laws – they are just ‘risky persons'”. It is very unfortunate that his
French counterpart, Alex Türk, does not share this point of view. In a
communiqué published on 22 October 2009, the CNIL has found that “the new
decrees will allow relevant police services to use (the created databases)
under conditions guaranteeing citizens rights and freedoms thanks to the
CNIL control powers”. One might wonder how and against which evidence the
CNIL would be able to control the ‘risk assessment’ having led to file one
person in the EDVIGE database, given the fact that no single infraction
needs to be committed first.

“No to EDVIGE” coalition website (including petition with automatic update
of signatures)

EDRi-gram: French Edvige Decree Withdrawn (3.12.2008)

EDRi-gram: France Pushes The Introduction Of Edvige Project Through The Back
Door (21.10.2009)

“No to EDVIGE” against police file creation by simple regulation (in French
only, 26.11.2009)

EDRi-gram: Declaration On Global Privacy Standards (5.11.2009)

CNIL: From “Edvige I’ to ‘Edvige III”: intelligence databases from now on
better supervised and better controlled (only in French, 22.10.2009)

(Contribution by Meryem Marzouki, EDRI-member IRIS – France)