French Cops Granted New Powers to Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones, GPS to Spy on Citizens

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French Cops Granted New Powers to Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones GPS to Spy on Citizens

French police have been given new powers to spy on citizens by remotely activate people’s phone cameras, microphones, and GPS, following the passage of a provision in a broader “justice reform bill” on Wednesday night.

The bill, which comes in the wake of the French riots, allows the police to retrieve geolocation to spy on suspects via laptops, cars, and connected devices like a phone or cameras, just as it could be remotely activated to record sound and images of people suspected of terror offenses.

French digital rights advocacy group, La Quadrature du Net, said the provisions “raise serious concerns over infringements of fundamental liberties” and violate the “right to security, right to a private life and to private correspondence” and “the right to come and go freely.”

The group called it part of a “slide into heavy-handed security.”

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti defended the move, insisting that the bill only applies to “dozens of cases a year.”

Meanwhile, members of parliament inserted an amendment that only allows remote spying “when justified by the nature and seriousness of the crime” and “for a strictly proportional duration” after a judge has approved the surveillance spying.

Lawmakers have also insisted that sensitive professions like journalists, judges, lawyers, doctors, and MPs would not be targeted.

People’s Gazette reports:

Last month, the Senate gave the green light to the provision of the justice bill, which would allow law enforcement to secretly activate cameras and microphones on a suspect’s devices.

Since 2015, when terrorist attacks rocked France, the country has increased its surveillance powers, and the “Keeper of the Seal” bill has been likened to the infamous US Patriot Act.

Since 2015, when terrorist attacks rocked France, the country has increased its surveillance powers, and the “Keeper of the Seal” bill has been likened to the infamous US Patriot Act.

“We’re far away from the totalitarianism of “1984,” said Dupond-Moretti, adding, “People’s lives will be saved” by the law.

France’s dystopian law echoes that used by the US FBI in the wake of 9/11 when the government’s use of “roving bugs” was revealed in a court case involving an organized crime family.

Rcrwireless noted:

“Roving bugs” pick up room audio instead of traditional wiretaps in which wireless phone conversations and other electronic communications are monitored-subject to court order by the FBI.

Both forms of electronic surveillance are covered by a 1986 law authorizing roving wiretaps, which gives law enforcement flexibility to eavesdrop continuously on suspects who often change locations and use different phones to avoid detection.

The constant movement of suspects was the situation in this case, frustrating the FBI to the point that it applied for and received from a federal judge eavesdropping authority under the roving wiretap statute.

With a twist. Government investigators were able to listen to conversations of organized crime suspects even when their cell phones were turned off-at least as far as the suspects were concerned.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected defendants’ arguments that “roving bugs” violated their constitutional rights, noting the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1993 upheld the roving wiretap statute in an identical legal challenge.

WATCH: Music Icon Morrissey Debuts New Song Shedding Light on Notre Dame Tragedy in Wake of France Riots

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