Digital Rights Group And ISPs Bring Legal Challenge Against New French Surveillance Law

from the just-the-beginning dept

As we’ve been reporting, seemingly hopeless legal challenges to UK surveillance have already notched up two wins, and revealed previously secret details about what has been going on. Now the French digital rights group La Quadrature du Net (LQDN) is taking the same approach in France:

Together with FFDN, a federation of community-driven non-profit ISPs, La Quadrature du Net is bringing a legal action before the French Council of State against a decree on administrative access to online communications metadata. Through this decree, it is a whole pillar of the legal basis for Internet surveillance that is being challenged. This appeal, which builds on the European Union Court of Justice’s recent decision on data retention, comes as the French government is instrumentalizing last month’s tragic events to further its securitarian agenda, with an upcoming bill on intelligence services.

LQDN is referring to the fact that in December 2014, the French government quietly passed an executive decree bringing in controversial surveillance measures that were passed by the French parliament a year before — more details are given in LQDN’s post. This is the first legal challenge carried out directly by La Quadrature du Net, but is unlikely to be the last:

Eventually, this legal challenge will make it possible not only to formally refer the issue to the Constitutional Council, since the [new surveillance law] never underwent a constitutionality check, but also to confront existing French Law with the [Court of Justice of the EU] and the [European Court of Human Rights]’s case laws.

In other words, even if the present challenge before the French Council of State fails, there are further legal avenues that can be explored afterwards, which makes the likelihood that at least one of them will be successful much higher.

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Companies: ffdn, la quadrature du net, lqdn

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Comments on “Digital Rights Group And ISPs Bring Legal Challenge Against New French Surveillance Law”

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9 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

the problem here is going to be the same as in the UK. it makes no difference at all what is ruled illegal actions by the French government. if they want to do something, they will. if they want to ignore something, they will. the UK government has been ruled as being illegal over data retention, citizen spying, etc, but have ignored the UK courts (as in the facial recognition photos held by the security forces) and the E$U courts and have continued to do what it wants. the French government will do the same. and God help them if the obnoxious little prick who held office before, comes back into politics. the people had it bad under him before. if he gets back into office, they will be getting things a whole lot worse!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The primary difference is that UK has a severe doubt about EU as a construct. They have certain reservations written into their membership, but also a legal and political tradition that goes against the non-political organs in EU. France is one of the main flagbearers for EU and particularly the non-political part of the cooperation. Since they are historically part of EU and still somewhat EU-positive, the blow from them ignoring such a courtorder would be significant.

Don’t get me wrong: French people says “non” to a lot, but they do it politically and not as much to legal experts.

Anonymous Coward says:

The English translation is slightly off. For example, the French says that, if the Council of State (Conseil d’état) challenge fails, they can “à terme” – i.e. in due course – go to the ECJ.
France is a very legalistic nation, and, so far as I know, no government has ever rejected an opinion of the Conseil d’état, which is a heavyweight and very independent body. One of its jobs is to examine proposed French legislation for conformity with EU rules, and it looks like this wasn’t done for the 2013 Military Programme Law to which these measures were attached.
What will happen in practice, of course, is hard to know. but, unlike in some other countries, individuals who the Conseil d’état thinks exceeded their powers have been investigated for possible criminal acts. Watch this space.

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