On the 19th of March 2015, a law was introduced in France. That law was entitled “loi du renseignement” and was presented in regard of what happened in the Charlie Hebdo awful week. The main idea of the law is to put peole on wire so that terrorist activities could be spotted and dismantled.
That law will be voted and apply on the the 5th of May 2015.
Although such a law sounds great for counter-terrorism, it has several major issues people should be aware of.
Every people – in France and abroad as well of course – could be on wire. The French government might have access to whatever you do with your internet connection. Crypto-analysts working for the goverment will read dozens of thousands of messages from individuals. They’ll know where you go to and where you go from – think of your smartphone’s GPS capabilities. They’ll know which pictures you take, how much time you spend in your bathroom. They’ll even be able to read your e-mails if they want to.
Of course, most people “just don’t care”. “Why should I care that the government knows the litter brand I bought to my cat? I don’t give a damned heck as long as they catch bad people”. That’s a point, but that’s also being blind. Digital communication is not only about yourself. It’s about people. It’s about you and your friends. You, and your contacts. You can’t choose for them whether they’d like people to watch over their shoulders every now and then. If the government has access to your private data, it has access to your friends’ and contacts’ data as well. Not giving a damned heck is being selfish.
Then comes the issue with what the law is. It gives the government the right to spy on masses. They could even sell the data they collect. As a counter argument, the “Commission de contrôle des techniques de renseignement” – which French stands for “Control commission of intelligence techniques” – was created. That committe is there to watch the government and ensure it doesn’t go out of control and doesn’t violate people’s rights. The issue with that is that our prime minister has the right to ignore the committee’s decision. If the committee says “Wait a minute. You don’t have the right to gather those information without asking for M. Dupont’s approval”, the prime minister may answer back “Well, fuck off. I will and you can’t stop me”. And the sad truth is that… yeah, with that law, the prime minister and their team has the right to ignore the committee’s decision.
The committee then has no point. It just gives an opinion. Not a veto. What would happen if a terrorist hacked into your computer. Would you go to jail because the prime minister would have stated you were a terrorist? Damn me if I know.
French people will lose a very important right: the right to privacy. It’ll be sacrificied without your opinion for counter-terrorism, giving the government a power it shouldn’t have. You thought the NSA was/is wrong? Sure it is. But when the NSA watches over American and worldwide people, it is illegal whereas when the French government watches over French and worldwide people, it is legal. That makes the French government way worse than the NSA to me.
I think the first thing I’ll do will be to revoke my French VPS subscription to move it out of France, in a country in which people still have privacy. Keep your communication encrypted as much as possible (ssh and so on). And as a bad joke, don’t leave your camera in your bedroom. You might be spied on by Manuel Valls while having sex with your girlfriend.