Big Picture- ‘France Spy Bill’

  • IASbaba
  • May 17, 2015
  • 2
Rajya Sabha-Big Picture
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France Spy Bill: Legalizing mass surveillance?



  • The intelligence bill, which was accelerated in the wake of the January shootings in the Paris area, would overhaul what officials say is an outdated legal framework for spy craft.
  • The new law will allow the authorities to spy on digital mobile phone communications of anyone linked to terrorist enquiry without a prior authorization from a judge.
  • It forces internet service providers and phone companies to give up data on request. Intelligence agencies will have the right to place cameras and recording devices in private homes and install key logger devices that record every key stroke on a targeted computer in real time.
  • The law would allow the use of so-called IMSI-catchers and black boxes, devices that would respectively capture and analyze metadata sent over telecommunication networks.
  • The government claims terrorists have specific behavior patterns that can be identified by these surveillance methods.
  • The authorities will be able to keep the recordings for a month and Meta data, gathered from internet users, for over 5 years.
  • This move might inspire other countries to put such laws in place.
  • The government says the law is needed to take account of changes in communications technology.
  • The government says it wants to bring modern surveillance techniques within the law rather than outside any system of control.
  • A new watchdog will oversee the intelligence services, which will have broader powers to look at classified material and handle complaints from the public.
  • There is no judicial oversight and everyone can be threatened as a potential danger.
  • The bill has generated concern from technology firms and civil-liberties groups because it would give legal blessing to a wide range of surveillance activities without the oversight of a judge.

Mains Questions:

  1. The France spy bill might inspire country like India to put such laws in place. Critically comment.
  2. Human rights groups argue that spying laws jeopardizes the right to privacy and a greater judicial control needs to be applied to the intelligence agencies. Elaborate.

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