France spy bill represents ‘worrying trend of remote surveillance’

France spy bill represents ‘worrying trend of remote surveillance’

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French police should be able to spy on suspects by activating the camera, microphone and GPS of their phones and other devices, lawmakers agreed on Wednesday, July 5.

According to the French publication Le Monde, the bill will also cover laptops, cars and other connected objects, allowing for suspects to be punished by at least five years in jail.

Devices may be activated to record the sound and images of people suspected of terror offences and organised crime.

However, the development represents a “worrying and growing trend of remote surveillance and often warrantless stop and search powers” according to Rebecca Moody, head of data research at Comparitech.

France's latest bill, which could give police the ability to remotely turn on suspects' cameras, microphones, and GPS, highlights how security agencies around the world are being given more power to snoop on citizens before a crime is committed and with little or no regard for any innocent parties involved,” she said.

“Out of the 50 countries we study, all of them give police some rights to access mobile phones, whether by physically searching them or remotely hacking them.

“In fact, all of the countries we analysed are known to have access to some type of hacking software, e.g. Cellebrite."

The bill has also received criticism from digital rights group La Quadrature du Net, who said the provisions would raise concerns over “infringements of fundamental liberties”.

Earlier this year, France became the first country to legalise the use of intelligent video surveillance for major events including the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics.

The video surveillance will be powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and will remain in place until the end of 2024.

The latest development, though, comes after a 17-year-old of North African descent was fatally show during a traffic stop on June 27, inciting protests across the country.

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