See if this sounds familiar: A nation reeling from a major terror attack puts into place sweeping new surveillance rules in the name of public safety that critics think violate civil liberties. A measure with the nickname the "French Patriot Act" cleared the lower house of Parliament in France today, reports France24. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it seems likely to pass, reports the New York Times, which provides some specifics: The provisions would let intelligence services "tap cellphones, read emails and force Internet providers to comply with government requests to sift through virtually all of their subscribers’ communications." Advocates insist the monitoring would be directed at suspected terrorists, but critics don't buy it. A nine-person committee set up to oversee the surveillance would have only an advisory role and could not overrule the prime minister.
The measure "shows a number of tactics that seem cribbed from the NSA, including bulk collection of internet metadata, which would allow the government to track French citizens from site to site," notes a post at the Verge. The legislation also allows intelligence services to put microphones in a room or on objects to record conversations, and to use other devices to intercept phone conversations and text messages. The French debate follows the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices, and "many in the Socialist Party who would normally have spoken out against the new powers have instead kept quiet," observes the BBC. "In the wake of the January attacks, there is little political mileage in raising doubts about the intelligence services." (In the US, things seem to be moving in the opposite direction.)