A few months after three gunmen killed 17 people in Paris the French government is reviewing a new online surveillance bill on Monday. The bill would require ISPs to monitor for suspicious behavior and give law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to live phone and cellular data for anyone suspected of being connected to terrorism.
According to a report by The Guardian, the bill would also allow spy agencies to tap phone and emails without seeking permission from a judge. Despite concerns from Internet service providers and privacy advocates, France’s interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve defends the proposed measures and said they “are not aimed at installing generalised surveillance.”
French service providers have reacted strongly to the proposed bill, threatening to move their infrastructure away from France should the bill move forward.
In a translated statement provided to the WHIR, a number of French ISPs including OVH, Gandi, AFHADS, Ikoula, Lomaco and Online say that the surveillance law “will destroy a major segment of [France’s] economy.”
With 30-40 percent of French ISP customers being international customers, the damage to the ISPs reputations could extend beyond French borders. “These customers come because there is no Patriot Act in France,” the companies argue.
“For us, the result will be inevitable: we will move our infrastructure, our investments, and our workforce to somewhere where our customers will still want to work with us.”
In the statement, the ISPs also touch on the controversial “black boxes” that the French law would require them to install in their infrastructure. The “unlimited access” will “foster uncertainty and doubt” in customers. They also argue that the French government is not equipped to handle the technical aspects of the black boxes.
“Requiring the installation of black boxes and authorizing the real-time capture of private information on French information networks opens the door to numerous security risks, which would place France under mass surveillance unlike anything ever seen before. We do not see how a nine-member advisory board, that can make decisions with only four members present, can reassure us on these issues. Despite what some in power may say, this is not a safety measure, but a major democratic issue that our elected officials need to tackle properly.”