French lawmakers are set to vote on Tuesday on a comprehensive justice reform bill. That includes a provision enabling law enforcement agencies to remotely access the cameras, microphones, and location services of phones and other internet-connected devices used by criminal suspects.
The proposed law explicitly states that this measure can be implemented “without the knowledge or consent of its owner or possessor.” However, it is limited to suspects involved in terrorism. Moreover, organised crime and other illegal activities are punishable by five or more years in prison.
The provision for eavesdropping is part of a broader reform bill aimed at modernizing penal procedures. Reflecting a perceived public demand for enhanced law and order, as indicated by several polls.
“The goal of this law is clear: a faster, clearer, modern justice,” stated French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti. He presented the legislation in the spring.
Political Divide: Left-Wing Opposition Challenges Surveillance Provision in Justice Bill
While left-wing parties generally oppose the surveillance provision. President Emmanuel Macron‘s centrist party potentially has the ability to rally support from the conservative Republican party in the lower house of the French Parliament to pass the bill. The Senate, controlled by the opposition right, approved the legislation in May.
The justice minister proposed the use of high-tech methods to track suspects as an alternative to traditional police surveillance practices. Such as wiretapping a suspect’s vehicle and residence. He deemed it increasingly dangerous and no longer feasible for investigators.
If the justice reform bill is passed, French law enforcement agencies would gain broader authority to employ digital surveillance techniques to combat serious crimes. However, concerns have been raised by civil liberties advocates who argue that such measures may infringe upon individual privacy rights.
As the vote approaches, the outcome of the parliamentary decision will have significant implications for the balance between security and privacy in France. Shaping the future landscape of law enforcement practices.