France Gives Law Enforcement Power To Remotely Activate, Listen In On People’s Devices

In a concerning shift in law enforcement tactics, French lawmakers have given the green light to a measure that would empower the police to surreptitiously use mobile phones and other devices as their own surveillance tools. The provision, sanctioned late on July 5, permits police to remotely activate the cameras, microphones, and GPS of suspects’ phones, laptops, cars, and other connected devices. This move comes as part of a broader justice reform bill. The measure specifically targets individuals suspected of involvement in crimes, stipulating that only those implicated in crimes punishable by a minimum of five years in prison can be surveilled in this manner. The remote activation of devices is not only aimed at geolocation but can also be employed to capture audio and visual information pertaining to suspects allegedly engaged in terrorism, delinquency, or organized crime. However, the provision did not sail through unopposed. Digital rights organization La Quadrature du Net, in a statement issued in May, vehemently voiced its trepidation regarding possible infringement on fundamental liberties such as “right to security, right to a private life and to private correspondence” and the freedom of movement. The organization characterized this legislative proposal as symptomatic of a descent into oppressive security measures. In an effort to assuage concerns, an amendment was introduced during the debate by members of President Emmanuel Macron’s party, which imposes restrictions on the utilization of this covert surveillance. The amendment mandates that the spying can only be justified based on the gravity of the crime,…France Gives Law Enforcement Power To Remotely Activate, Listen In On People’s Devices