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Three French NGOs are challenging French International Surveillance

September 2015 by La Quadrature du Net

Today, the non-profit organization FDN, the FDN Federation and La Quadrature du Net have announced the introduction of two legal challenges before the French Council of State [1] against the Internet surveillance activities of French foreign intelligence services (DGSE [2]). As the French government announced the presentation of a new bill on international surveillance, these challenges underline the need for an actual control of surveillance measures.

© Tomasz Trojanowski

On Monday, with the assistance of law firm Spinosi-Sureau, La Quadrature du Net, FDN and FFDN brought legal action seeking a summary judgement and suspension against the unpublished decree regulating the measures of the surveillance of international communications by the DGSE, secretly adopted in 2008. If the decree’s existence, revealed [3] by the magazine le Nouvel Observateur in June 2015 remains secret, it has not been refuted by the French government. This decree authorises massive tapping by the French foreign intelligence services of Internet communications coming to or emanating from French territory. The legal challenge focuses on two main points:

- The fact that this decree is secret, automatically keeping away people and members of the Parliament from knowing about it, which contradicts the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

- The French Constitutional Council’s censorship of the article 854-1 of the Interior Security Code voted in the Surveillance Law renders de facto illegal this unpublished decree, since the Constitutional Council censured it by condemning the absence of control and definition within the law regarding the principles and modalities of international surveillance.

The implementing decree adopted in April 2008 had no legislative basis and its unconstitutionality is confirmed by the French Constitutional Council’s decision.

"Through these legal challenges our organizations are denouncing the massive collection of Internet traffic data by French intelligence agencies, conducted outside of any legal framework or effective oversight mechanism. Just as the government announces a new bill on "international surveillance" [4], this trial is an opportunity to stress the need to uphold the rule of law. To do so, the bill will have to break away from the logic of mass surveillance and provide a rigorous control that is compliant with international and European human rights standards, while ensuring transparency without which there cannot be any democratic control of the state," said Félix Tréguer, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.

- Suspension essay (fr) (pdf) [5]
- Summary judgment (fr) (pdf) [6]


References

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counc...
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direc...
[3] http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/soci...
[4] This bill is supposed to patch the censorship of the French Constitutional Council of the article 854-1 created by the Surveillance Law
[5] https://www.laquadrature.net//files...
[6] https://www.laquadrature.net//files...




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