France’s highest court upheld a new national intelligence bill that would give them unprecedented spying power — including NSA-style metadata collection — at home and internationally.
The Constitutional Council upheld several provisions in a bill passed in May aiming at increasing digital intelligence particularly telephone metadata collection, online traffic surveillance, monitoring calls and emails of suspected terrorists, and spyware that allows the government to monitor real-time computer behavior.
The council rejected a few provisions, one of which would have permitted unauthorized surveillance requests in emergencies without approval from a government minister. Another struck-down provision would have allowed the government to intercept communications sent or received overseas.
The new law, which was drafted in response to terrorism like the Charlie Hebdo attack this year, goes against Europe’s strict adherence to privacy but also represents an effort to increase surveillance capabilities akin the U.S.
Documents leaked in June prove the NSA spied on the private communications of three French presidents from 2006 to 2012. French President François Hollande said in response to the leaks, which were part of Snowden’s revelations.
Europe has also scrutinized its relationship with American businesses and their privacy practices, making it particularly difficult for tech companies such as Facebook and Google that are a part of the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies’ surveillance programs. For example, Germany announced plans to end its contract with U.S. wireless carrier Verizon last year because of its legal requirements to fulfill NSA data information requests.
On the other hand – November 29, 2015, the National Security Agency (NSA) will stop accessing “historical metadata” collected under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced in a press release on Monday.
The practice of bulk telephone metadata collection, the once-secret practice uncovered by leaker Edward Snowden,came to an end in June when provisions of the post-9/11 Patriot Act expired. On June 29, however, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court gave the NSA the go-ahead to resume its controversial bulk collection of telephone metadata for six months—the amount of time allotted by Congress in the USA Freedom Act. This block is meant to give the NSA time to switch to its narrower surveillance program. After November, the agency must receive approval from the FISA Court before requesting records from phone companies on an as-needed basis.