Controversial Law Grants French Police the Authority to Spy on Phones
In a move that has stirred heated debates, French lawmakers have passed a justice reform bill that includes a provision
In a move that has stirred heated debates, French lawmakers have passed a justice reform bill that includes a provision enabling the police to spy on suspects by remotely accessing their phones and other connected devices. The decision has sparked concerns among civil liberties advocates, who argue that it threatens privacy and individual freedoms—Meanwhile, proponents of the measure claim that it is necessary to combat serious crimes effectively.
Under the newly approved law, French police will be empowered to remotely activate cameras, microphones, and GPS systems on suspects’ phones and other devices. This broad provision covers various connected objects, including laptops, cars, and other smart devices. The primary objective is to gather geolocation data for suspects involved in crimes with a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment. Moreover, authorities can remotely activate devices to record audio and video evidence in cases related to terrorism, delinquency, and organized crime.
Critics, such as the digital rights group La Quadrature du Net, have raised serious concerns about the potential infringement of fundamental liberties. The organization emphasized that these provisions encroach upon the right to security, privacy, private correspondence, and freedom of movement. They view this law as an alarming step toward excessive state surveillance and a violation of individual privacy.
To address some of these concerns, lawmakers aligned with President Emmanuel Macron’s camp introduced an amendment during the debate on the reform bill. The amendment aims to restrict the scope of remote spying by stipulating that it can only be employed when justified by the nature and severity of the crime and must be of strictly proportional duration. Any application of this provision requires approval from a judge, and the overall duration of surveillance is limited to a maximum of six months. Additionally, certain professions, including doctors, journalists, lawyers, judges, and MPs, are exempt from being targeted by this surveillance measure.
It remains to be seen how this law will be implemented in practice and how the French public will receive it.