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France adopts new surveillance law

An anti-terror surveillance law has been passed in France, allowing the government's law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor telephone and cellular metadata and access personal information about anyone suspected of being linked to terrorism.26 Jun 2015

France's lower house voted to adopt the le projet de loi relatif au renseignement (link in French), on Wednesday evening, after senators had approved final changes brought to the law by a joint commission, Le Figaro said (link in French).

The law will affect much of French society, said Paris-based Diane Mullenex of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com., from individuals to the ISPs (internet service providers) who will have to cooperate with the government on surveillance.

The law is not "the full [US] Patriot Act, it won't go that far", Mullenex said, "but it's still game changing for France. It gives the intelligence agencies as much power as the police – but the police were always controlled by a judge."

"It's ironic that the vote happened on the same day as the disclosure that the American NSA has been spying on French presidents," she said.

The law will not take effect for some time, however, as it still has to be considered by the Elysée, the Senate and a group of 100 MPs from a range of parties, all of whom can challenge it if they identify aspects that are unconstitutional and need to be reworked, Mullenex said.

Telecoms companies have threatened to leave France due to the proposed bill, saying that it puts the entire French population under surveillance, ZDNet said.