France Passes Bill to Allow Police to ‘Secretly’ Activate Phone Cameras of Suspects

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
July 8, 2023France
France Passes Bill to Allow Police to ‘Secretly’ Activate Phone Cameras of Suspects
Officers from the RAID ("Research, Assistance, Intervention, Deterrence") tactical unit of the French National Police patrol the street in Lille, northern France, on June 30, 2023. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images)

French lawmakers passed a measure that allows police to remotely activate the phone cameras, microphones, and geolocation of criminal suspects without their knowledge, on the heels of ongoing protests in the country.

Under the “justice reform bill,” police will be able to activate the phones, laptops, cars, and other connected electronics of criminal suspects, French media outlet Le Monde reported on July 6.

The bill also enables the police to record sound and capture images of people suspected of committing terrorism-related offenses, organized crime, and delinquency, according to the report.

The legislation will apply only to suspects in crimes that carry at least a five-year prison sentence; Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti anticipates the new law will affect only “dozens of cases a year.”

The use of the provision will require judicial approval and is limited to a maximum duration of six months. The report also states that “sensitive professions” such as doctors, journalists, lawyers, judges, and members of parliament are excluded from the provision.

French advocacy group La Quadrature du Net had previously raised concerns about the potential infringement of the fundamental “right to security, privacy,” and “the right to come and go freely.”

“At a time when police violence is only increasing, when political movements are being muzzled by surveillance and massive searches, parliamentarians are about to authorize the transformation of all connected objects into police snitches,” the group wrote on Twitter.

“We repeat: if this [bill] were adopted, it would radically change the paradigm of police espionage, by transforming all our computer tools into a gateway to monitoring us.”

NTD Photo
Attendees hold a banner reading “Justice for Nahel” during a commemoration march for a teenage driver on June 29, 2023. (Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images)

The new authority comes about amid widespread protests across the country that were triggered by the police shooting of a 17-year-old teen known as Nahel M. during a traffic stop in Nanterre, France, just outside Paris, on June 27.

Thousands of protesters have been arrested in recent weeks.

Macron Blames Social Media Platforms

French President Emmanuel Macron said the rioters used social media platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok to organize themselves. He believed that the sites also contributed to “mimicking” behavior by some young people, who repeated what they saw online and lost track of reality.

“It sometimes feels like some of them re-live in the streets the video games that have intoxicated them,” the president said in televised remarks from a government emergency meeting on June 30.

Some 45,000 police officers were deployed to quell the unrest, and more than 1,300 people have been arrested as of July 1, The Guardian reported.

NTD Photo
Firefighters stand as they extinguish burning vehicles during clashes between protesters and police on June 28, 2023. (Stephanie Lecocq/Reuters)

According to multiple reports, some protestors threw fireworks and projectiles at police in Marseille, France, while others set fire to bus depots and public buildings.

In Nantes, France, some protestors reportedly drove a car into a Lidl supermarket before looting it, according to the BBC. A bank was set on fire in the suburb, according to CNN, while multiple fires occurred in the northern city of Lille, France, including an elementary school and a district office, multiple French outlets reported.

Nahel, who’s reportedly of Algerian and Moroccan descent, was shot at point-blank range by a police officer as he attempted to drive away from the traffic stop and drove through a red light.

The officer claimed to have opened fire on the teenager because he feared that he and his colleague or someone else could be hit by the car as the teen attempted to drive off, according to a public prosecutor.

Katabella Roberts, Lorenz Duchamps, and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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