ICE blogs

May 7, 2015

Surveillance Act ‘threatens journalism’

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines — news_editor @ 1:05 pm

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has criticised legislation in France that will expand government surveillance and threaten journalistic activities. The measure was backed by French parliamentarians despite criticism from rights groups. OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic commented: ‘If enforced, these practices will impact the right of journalists to protect the confidentiality of sources and their overall work. … If confidentiality of sources is not safeguarded within a trusted communications environment, the right of journalists to seek and obtain information of public interest would be seriously endangered.’

The legislation was drafted by the ruling Socialist Party just days after a group of armed Islamists attacked France’s popular satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on 7 January killing a dozen members of the magazine’s staff.

The newly approved bill provides blanket-approval for the wholesale interception and storage of communications metadata, which include information about the location and size of internet-based communications exchanges and the identities of those sending or receiving electronic messages. The legislation also includes a provision for the setting up of a National Commission for Control of Intelligence Techniques to supervise the use of surveillance powers by France’s six intelligence agencies and handle complaints from the public relating to communications interception.

The bill was backed by 438 votes for – with just 86 against. Most parliamentarians from the three main parties – the Socialist Party, the rightwing Union for a Popular Movement, and the centrist Union of Democrats and Independents – supported the bill. The Radical Party of the Left also voted for the bill but the Communist-led Left Front and the Greens voted overwhelmingly against the bill.

• See http://intelnews.org/

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