French Constitutional Council finds mass surveillance bill constitutional

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On July 23, 2015, the Constitutional Council (Conseil Constitutionnel) validated most of the Loi Renseignement containing several mass surveillance provisions (see here), which had been suspected of being unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Council censored a couple of provisions of the law. Among others, it specifically deemed the procedure for “operational emergency” manifestly disproportionate with reference to the right to privacy and secrecy of correspondence. The procedure allowed intelligence services to override the normal surveillance procedure, which required prior governmental authorization (see comments concerning Article L. 821-6, and followings). Also, the Council deemed that the provision allowing for surveillance of communications between a person located in France and a person located abroad unconstitutional. In addition, the Council found the law was too vague. It did not define the conditions of exploitation, conservation and destruction of the information gathered, nor it determined the rules concerning citizens’ fundamental guarantees for the exercise of civil liberties (see comments concerning Article L. 854-1, and followings).

According to the Council, the text of the law allowed for the respect of the attorney-client privilege.

The bill is now on its way to become law.

The Loi Renseignement is available (in French) at http://www.senat.fr…

Decision 2015-713 DC voted on July 23, 2015, is available (in French) at http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr…

More information is available (in French) at http://www.lemonde.fr/pixels/article/2015/07/24/loi-sur-le-renseignement-que-contiennent-les-dispositions-censurees-par-le-conseil-constitutionnel_4697066_4408996.html

For more information, Francesca Giannoni-Crystal

Mass surveillance bill passed in France – now under review of Constitutional Council |  Technethics

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