back to article France accused of tabling 'Patriot Act' style surveillance law

Privacy advocates have criticised French plans to expand digital surveillance as badly thought out and rushed. A bill (“Projet de Loi Relatif au Renseignement”) – which was drawn up before the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Casher supermarket attacks – is due to go before the National Assembly next week under an accelerated …

  1. Vimes

    Privacy advocates have criticised French plans to expand digital surveillance as badly thought out and rushed.

    When have plans to expand digital surveillance ever been anything other than badly thought out and rushed, anywhere in the world?

    1. Wzrd1

      "When have plans to expand digital surveillance ever been anything other than badly thought out and rushed, anywhere in the world?"

      The Great Firewall of China comes to mind.

      1. Vimes

        The Great Firewall of China comes to mind.

        Even that has problems from time to time.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/26/great_firewall_of_china_ddos_bug/

        And weaknesses too apparently...

        http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/18/activists-chinese-internet-censorship-mirror-sites

  2. Vimes

    Also note that they conveniently forget to mention that they had been watching the Charlie Hebdo attackers *before* the attack. Just what would be gained if that situation were to be repeated?

    People working within these agencies need to start taking responsibility for their failures rather than continually ask for more every time something bad happens.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      One of the great things about the security services is that THEY DON'T have to take responsibility for failures before they ask for their next helping of surveillance. They should, but they don't.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        hmm

        My problem is the idea of a successful attack being a failure. The demand for perfect security ignores the complexity of perfect security and the absolute demand to remove freedom. People are demanding security services do better, security services are stepping beyond what would have been considered unreasonable and then people complain (rightly) of over-surveillance.

        There are an unknown number of attacks being plotted against various people/locations/groups at any time and a limited number of security people to do the necessary work against threats of varying levels and complexity. If we count as a failure the lone unhinged nutter or the lucky complex attack succeeding then we are demanding a police state of heavy regulation and restriction. However a police state of heavy regulation and restriction is terrorising in itself.

        I think both the demands on the security services and the security services demands have gone too far. Countries are sacrificing freedom for the belief of more security.

        1. Vimes

          Re: hmm @codejunky

          This is a situation perpetuated by the agencies themselves. Rather than say 'we can't/shouldn't do that' they try and give us the impression that they can - sometimes dishonestly.

          The lies told by Clapper to congress would be a good example of that (oops, sorry he 'misspoke', which is on a par with Hammond's testimony to the UK's ISC when his mistakes were hilighted during questioning and he subsequently claimed he had 'inadvertently mislead' them). And then we have Keith Alexander saying that the programs were used to disrupt 53 of 54 plots. Then this shrunk to 13 (but only under questioning).

          I would not be surprised if similar 'mistakes' were being made in France.

          Ignoring for a moment any legitimacy of these spying powers, how can we trust them if they can't at least give both honest and accurate answers to questions put to them, and only reveal the truth when the lies are exposed?

          http://www.cbsnews.com/news/james-clapper-says-he-misspoke-didnt-lie-about-nsa-surveillance/

          http://www.allgov.com/news/controversies/nsa-director-alexander-admits-he-lied-about-phone-surveillance-stopping-54-terror-plots-131007?news=851326

          1. Graham Marsden

            @Vimes - Re: hmm @codejunky

            > This is a situation perpetuated by the agencies themselves

            Well, yes. How many times in history has a security agency said "Ok, we've done our job, we're going to close the agency and take early retirement now"?

            It is in their interest for there to be plots and if there aren't, they're sure going to find some...

            1. Vimes

              Re: @Vimes - hmm @codejunky

              Nobody's talking about closing anything down, just not grabbing what they don't need in a way that seems counterproductive in the longer term.

              As for the rest, wasn't there a story recently about how the FBI created a plot by egging on a mentally & emotionally challenged man to become a terrorist that never had any chance of success?

      2. Wzrd1

        "One of the great things about the security services is that THEY DON'T have to take responsibility for failures before they ask for their next helping of surveillance."

        Sure they do. They approach the leadership and say, "See? If I had *this*, *that* would not have happened".

        And hence, the emperor gets his new clothes.

  3. Little Mouse
    Black Helicopters

    Maybe the French security services are just getting nostalgic for the good old days of Minitel?

    Way ahead of its time, granted, but from a way more innocent age as well. I bet they had their grubby mits all over it from day one.

    1. Vimes

      Re: Maybe the French security services are just getting nostalgic for the good old days of Minitel?

      It is rather amusing to see outrage originating from France and other countries when it comes to the NSA/GCHQ activities going on in recent years, especially when you consider what the French DGSE have been up to with regards to IBM, Texas Instruments and Corning to name but a few.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe the French security services are just getting nostalgic for the good old days of Minitel?

        "It is rather amusing to see outrage originating from France and other countries when it comes to the NSA/GCHQ activities going on in recent years, especially when you consider what the French DGSE have been up to with regards to IBM, Texas Instruments and Corning to name but a few."

        Actually, there has been zero outrage from french officials on this. Hollande has stayed suspectedly silent, leaving Merkel alone being loud. Sure, Merkel, as german chancellor, was pissed off to have her mobile hacked, I'll give you that.

        French press reacted, but you'd be hard pressed to find any french officials say anything. As a french citizen, I've been VERY worried about that, and the curent blanket bill, which definitely is, in essence, a french patriot act, is going to have impact on every french citizen, starting NOW.

        Control of interceptions has been made completely useless: it is a posteriori (was a priori as of today), made by only 3 or 4 blokes (the interception control commission) vs. the incoming 10 000 interceptions per year which are in the plans. They won't control anything, just pathetically report abuses, like the UK ICO does today.

        And yet, Valls told us it is controlled. What a load of bollocks.

        If you're in France, expect your ISP box to send any HTTP URL to a central DB, for which access will be enlarged to any local copper soon, this in the coming year. Use TOR whenever you don't want your browsing history on the public place.

        1. Vimes

          Re: Maybe the French security services are just getting nostalgic for the good old days of Minitel?

          Actually, there has been zero outrage from french officials on this

          I was thinking more of the general public. It's interesting to note the same behaviour shown in the US (i.e. outrage when it affects them, otherwise simply not caring it's being allowed to happen). And yet we still get upset when American agencies continue unopposed by their own people.

          I also happen to hold a French passport, and given the games that the French authorities like to play with personal information (personal details handed to the consulate ending up in the hands of commercial organisations for a start) as well as the complete lack of action from the CNIL when complaints are made it would be interesting to see what impact this law has on French citizens living outside of France.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Maybe the French security services are just getting nostalgic for the good old days of Minitel?

            "I also happen to hold a French passport, and given the games that the French authorities like to play with personal information (personal details handed to the consulate ending up in the hands of commercial organisations for a start) as well as the complete lack of action from the CNIL when complaints are made it would be interesting to see what impact this law has on French citizens living outside of France."

            I think we agree on all of this:

            - privacy is long gone in France: I have daily calls from idiots pretending to work for EDF or ERDF (french electricity companies) that got my number from EDF listings. CNIL, don't even start me on this, they've been yes-men for now more than 2 decades, they won't act on anything related to privacy, post the 90s.

            - prefectures, when you register your car to them (mandatory) are routinely pushing any citizens' details to anyone interested. You'll then be contacted by them on a weekly or daily basis.

            My point is, current french laws are already making any privacy a complete joke, should you live in France or elsewhere. New ones are making it a complete and utter dream.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: Maybe the French security services are just getting nostalgic for the good old days of Minitel?

              "My point is, current french laws are already making any privacy a complete joke, should you live in France or elsewhere. New ones are making it a complete and utter dream."

              Maybe someone needs to "leak" a story about personal data leaks of all French farmers. Or truckers. Or Taxi drivers. Or railway workers. Or don't they get worked up about things like that anymore?

  4. heyrick Silver badge

    as a country actively involved in spying against US interests.

    And to balance the scales, hasn't the US shown itself to be actively involved in spying against [$EuropeanCounty]'s interests? What's good for the goose and all that.

  5. heyrick Silver badge

    However as a person living in France

    The possible ways to abuse this are very worrying. All discussion regarding "because Charlie Hebdo" should bring an immediate halt to plans of new laws. Why? Simple. Without these important necessary essential new powers, they already knew.

    1. Vimes

      Re: However as a person living in France

      You could say the same of the 7/7 bombings, or the Lee Rigby killers, or Jihadi John, or... well, you get the idea...

  6. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "economic and scientific priorities", "foreign policy", and "the execution of international engagements"

    Sounds like there are plenty of loopholes in the French people's right to privacy. Are you working with or for an overseas company that France wants to conduct economic espionage against? We've got you surveilled. Working with overseas scientists on something France wants to emulate? We've got you surveilled. Speaking out against a treaty or agreement France is making with other nations? We've got you surveilled.

    I don't even know what the last one means. I guess its a catch-all in case France finds you are taking an interest in things outside of France.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems familiar

    “Though the goal of the bill is to place France’s surveillance practices under the rule of law, it in fact uses law to clothe a naked expansion of surveillance powers,”

    Taking a leaf out of the UK's book, I see.

  8. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    Je Suis...

    ... un Hypocrite!

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    "accelerated legislative procedure"

    Right there is a big Red flag taht something very shifty is going on.

    Data fetishists.

    There everywhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "accelerated legislative procedure"

      " "accelerated legislative procedure"

      Right there is a big Red flag taht something very shifty is going on."

      Agree. And the sad thing is, Valls said just after the Charlie Hebdo slaughter he didn't want to rush a law under the emotion. Then, did exactly that.

  10. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Rush to legalise current behaviour

    Why bother apart from as an exercise in assuaging guilt... It's not as if any western country's court would close down or severely restrict their security services carrying out illegal practices, and if they did they'd just carry on regardless anyway.

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