French lawmakers pass a provision to allow police to spy on supsects’ devices

French National Assembly passes provision allowing police to remotely activate cameras on suspects’ devices, raising concerns over privacy infringement.

 Flag, France Flag

A new provision allowing police to remotely activate cameras on suspects’ phones and other devices has been passed by the French National Assembly. As part of a wider justice reform bill, this provision will allow French police to remotely activate the camera, microphone, and GPS of suspects’ phones, laptops, and other connected devices. The provision would ‘allow the geo-location of suspects in crimes that are punishable by a prison sentence of at least five years.’ Devices could also be switched on at a distance to capture sound and images of people under suspicion of terrorism, delinquent, and organised crime offences.

The French advocacy group promoting digital rights and freedoms, La Quadrature du Net, expressed their concerns in May over the threat of the right to privacy and warned that this could ‘increase the possibilities of police intrusion by transforming all our IT tools into potential spies.’

An amendment was added during a debate, on Wednesday, 5 July, by MPs imposing limitations on remote spying only when necessary for serious crimes and in proportion to the situation. Approval from a judge is required, and the surveillance period is capped at six months. Doctors, journalists, lawyers, judges, and MPs, would not be considered legitimate targets.