World, Europe

France to bring anti-terror law on tech surveillance

Bill will be tabled on April 28 at request of president, premier, says interior minister

Shweta Desai   | 25.04.2021
France to bring anti-terror law on tech surveillance


France will bring a new anti-terrorism legislation specifically devoted to intelligence, in the wake of recent attacks carried out by lone, radicalized individuals, the interior minister announced.

The bill will be tabled on April 28 at the request of President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex, Gerald Darmanin told Journal du Dimanche on Saturday.

The new law will strengthen technological surveillance and provide for “updating and perpetuating the use of algorithms, that is the automated processing of connection data, by the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI),” he said.

Darmanin said the new anti-terror measure is important given that authorities are now dealing with “isolated individuals, increasingly young, unknown to the intelligence services before their act and without necessarily any link with established Islamist networks.” They, however, heavily use the internet and social media rather than traditional telephone means, which makes it difficult to locate them.

This was the case of attackers in the assassination of history teacher Samuel Paty in October, and the stabbing of a police official inside the Rambouillet police station on Friday.

The young Chechan immigrant in Paty’s case had escaped vigilance but was in touch with contacts in Syria through Instagram messaging, Darmanin said. He added: “the law must allow us to be more efficient, by strengthening us in the field of technology used by terrorists.”

The bill will also address other terrorism-related issues such as increasing the duration of administrative follow-ups of those released from prison on terror charges, from one year to two years. And improving access to the socio-psychiatric follow-up of potentially dangerous people.

Darmanin said the government is introducing new measures and legislation like the bill consolidating respect for the principles of the Republic.

He said the Islamist threat remained very strong and since 2017, there were 14 attacks causing death of 25 people and 36 potential attacks were thwarted. A total of 575 people whose names were listed in the radicalization file, were expelled from France, and around 20 underground schools closed.

In addition, France also faced the threat of the “ultra-right, conspiratorial, survivalist,” he said, detailing that five terrorist plans from such groups were thwarted, three of which targeted places of Muslim culture or worship.

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