The NSA has received more attention than it ever could have hoped for as a "secret" spy agency. The release of documents by Edward Snowden has revealed the full extent to which the NSA goes to spy internationally and domestically. Interestingly, France has decided to one up the NSA with a new law that authorizes the French intelligence agencies to spy in real time on its citizens.
The French government appears to have radically altered its position on open ended surveillance in the last few months. When the Snowden disclosures began, the French government expressed its outrage over such snooping with President François Holland expressing his "extreme reprobation".
Six months later and the same government has passed a military programming law that allows the government to spy on French internet users in real time without first seeking any type of approval from the courts. It is the kind of authority that will give a Stalin supporter fond memories!
Proponents of the law suggest it is necessary to protect the country from:
- Economic espionage,
- Scientific espionage, and
- Organized crime.
Proponents of the law further note civil liberties will be protected. There is, however, no language in the law detailing how this will occur. The Commission Nationale de l'Informatique and Liberties is charged with protecting the civil liberties of French citizens when new legislation is considered. Despite this, Commission representatives have noted they were not consulted on the law.
For all the criticisms France receives internationally, it has always been considered a bastion of civil liberties. Given this new law, it would appear the bastion may have fallen.