04 Feb 2019 Lvl. 2
Alert created on: 06 May 2015 n° 37/2015 France
France Legalises Mass Surveillance of its Citizens
On 5 May 2015, the French National Assembly voted on the surveillance bill which gives the Prime Minister the power to massively monitor the French population without judicial control. The bill, adopted under an accelerated procedure, was met with opposition from a number of civil and professional organizations (the journalists’ unions SNJ and SNJ-CGT, the European Federation of Journalists, the Human Rights League, Amnesty International, two Unions of Magistrates, the Union of Lawyers, the Defender of Rights, the National Commission for Computing and Liberties ...). The text legalizes the practice by the intelligence services, of a particularly broad and intrusive surveillance on the privacy of citizens, with no real counter-power, and for purposes unrelated to terrorism. This law definitively compromises the protection of journalists' sources and it is an obvious deterrent to whistleblowers.
04 Feb 2019
In its 2018 report, the National Commission for the Control of Intelligence Techniques (CNCTR) noted that 22,308 persons had been the subject of at least one surveillance measure in 2018, an increase of 4% in relation to the previous year. The CNCTR issued 2.1% of negative opinions on all the requests received. The report notes an increase in requests for geolocation (+38%) and for interceptions of correspondence and wiretapping (+20.6%).
18 Dec 2017
On 1 November 2017, Law No. 2017-1510 of 30 October 2017 to strengthen internal security entered into force, extending surveillance and control to wireless communications. Decree No. 2018-543 of 29 June 2018 extended the use of radio interceptions to intelligence services of the second circle (judicial police, search sections of specialised gendarmeries) where the protection of national independence, the prevention of terrorism, the prevention of serious collective violence and action against organised crime are at issue.
29 Sep 2017
On 27 September 2017, as authorised by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Rights Defender intervened in the case of Association confraternelle de la presse juridique and 11 other applications v. France.
15 May 2017
On 3 October and 27 November 2015, Association confraternelle de la presse juridique and 11 other applicants filed a complaint with the ECtHR against the Law of 24 July 2015 on intelligence, alleging a violation of Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life), 10 (freedom of expression) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention Human Rights. Two similar complaints were filed by the journalists Jacques Follorou and Franck Johannès on 19 April 2017.
- European Court of Human Rights, Association confraternelle de la presse judiciaire v. France and 11 other applications, application no. 49526/15, case communicated on 26 April 2017 (in French)
- European Court of Human Rights, Jacques Follorou and Franck Johannès v. France, applications nos. 30635/17 and 30636/17, case communicated on 4 July 2017 (in French)
12 Dec 2016
On 19 October 2016, the Council of State’s specialised body delivered four judgments on the implementation of intelligence techniques, notably finding an appeal against a CNCTR decision inadmissible.
23 Nov 2015
By deliberation of 29 October 2015, the CNCTR defined the journalists who come under the protection by article L 821-7 of the Internal Security Code as "any person of French or foreign nationality who, practicing her/his profession in one or several press or publishing, online public communication or audiovisual communication companies or with one or several press agencies, located in France or abroad, performs the collection of information and its dissemination to the public on a regular and paid basis."
05 Oct 2015
On 3 October 2015, the Law on Surveillance entered into force, after the Official Journal published the Presidential decree, appointing the members of the National Commission for the Intelligence Techniques. On the same day, 180 journalists of the legal press association announced that they were appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the law has wide implications for civil liberties and asking the Court to strike down the sweeping powers the law gives to intelligence agencies.
22 May 2015
Journalists respond to the French Authorities on the Draft Law on Intelligence
- Letter from the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression/UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association/UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders/UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism/UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy (in French)
- Constitutional Council, Decision No. 2015-478-QPC, 24 July 2015 (in French)
- Constitutional Council, Decision No. 2015-713-DC, 23 July 2015 (in French)
- Law No. 2015-912 of 24 July 2015 on intelligence (JORF No. 171 of 26 July 2015, p. 12735) (in French)
- Article in The New York Times: "Lawmakers in France Move to Vastly Expand Surveillance"
- EFJ Statement (in French)
12 May 2015
Reply by the French authorities
03 Aug 2017
The European Court of Human Rights decided to communicate to the French Government several applications lodged by journalists and lawyers which concern the French Intelligence Act of 24 July 2015. On 27 April and 4 July 2017, the Court put questions to the parties under Articles 8 (right to respect for private life and correspondence), 10 (freedom of expression) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention.
20 May 2015
The Commissioner for Human Rights addressed the French Senate on surveillance bill
06 May 2015
Press Release from OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
13 Apr 2015
Statement by Commissioner of Human Rights
Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer
29 Feb 2016
Factsheet on Mass Surveillance