France and new security law

charlie hebdo

Following the Charlie Hebdo attack, the French Government has been working to draft and vote in a new intelligence law. In many ways, this law is even broader than the Patriot Act, and many media outlets, non-governmental organizations and vocal opponents lobbied against it. And yet, 77 percent of the members of the Assemblée Nationale approved this law.

One area of concern are the so-called black boxes. French Internet service providers and hosting companies will have to install a new system in their infrastructure to filter all traffic. An algorithm will detect suspicious activity, like if someone is watching videos related to terrorism, and then record everything you do online.

Nobody will see this algorithm source code in the black box and know what’s happening, except a new institution in charge of the technical control of intelligence systems. This institution will be nominated by the ARCEP, the French equivalent of the FCC.

Good intelligence laws are all about finding the perfect balance between security and privacy. But many say this law doesn’t really take privacy into account.

In addition to the black boxes, there will be a new database of dangerous persons, new devices to record phone calls, FISA-like metadata collection and more.

Read more in this NY Times article.