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French National Assembly

The French National Assembly overwhelmingly passed the Intelligence Law on Tuesday, retroactively sanctioning mass spying carried out by the intelligence services. The reactionary and antidemocratic law formally sets up the surveillance infrastructure for a police state in France, allowing the government to collect data on the entire population.

All the parties of the political establishment supported the law, which was approved 438-86, with 42 abstentions. It was overwhelmingly backed by both the ruling Socialist Party (PS) and the conservative Union for a Popular Majority (UMP). Some Green and Left Party delegates voted against, secure in the knowledge that the law would pass overwhelmingly.

The Senate is due to begin examining the law on May 20 and is expected to approve it before the Constitutional Council examines it.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls (PS) personally appeared at the National Assembly to defend the bill. Admitting that “it is exceptionally rare for a prime minister to present a bill to the representatives of the nation, ” he said that he was doing so “to insist on the law’s importance.”

During parliamentary debate last week, Valls sought to intimidate deputies critical of the bill by saying that they were refusing to “defend the Republic.” All but accusing opponents of the bill of treason, Valls declared that the decision to vote for or against the law would separate “those who have a sense for the state from those who sometimes do not.”

The French ruling class is seizing on the attacks on the anti-Islam Charlie Hebdo magazine in January to rapidly push through far-reaching measures. By voting for the law, the state is sanctioning powers that even supporters of the law admit were illegal, though broadly used. Last month, Le Monde wrote that “this text, which legalizes forty years of illegal practices by the secret services and tries to somewhat control them, was in the works for years.”

Thus, for years, the intelligence services have employed criminal practices to spy on everyone, without criticism from the parliament, which obeys the orders of the police and intelligence services. The law will now function to protect and offer legal cover to these same intelligence officials.

The law obliges Internet Service Providers to provide their clients’ data in real time. Electronic surveillance will be stepped up, with the mass collection of metadata. Cameras and microphones can also be exploited for spying purposes. Communications between two people in France, as well as communications between people in France and abroad, can be recorded.

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Prints Online Photo Jigsaw Puzzle Of National Assembly
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  • Artwork chosen by Prints Online. (c) Mary Evans Picture Library 2007
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  • Artwork Description NATIONAL ASSEMBLY Impassioned oratory at an excited session of the National Assembly. .
  • Artwork chosen by Prints Online. (c) Mary Evans Picture Library 2007
  • For any queries regarding this artwork please contact Prints Online quoting Reference 586404
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  • Artwork Description NATIONAL ASSEMBLY Impassioned oratory at an excited session of the National Assembly. .
  • Artwork chosen by Prints Online. (c) Mary Evans Picture Library 2007
  • For any queries regarding this artwork please contact Prints Online quoting Reference 586404
Prints Online Photographic Print Of National Assembly
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  • Artwork Description NATIONAL ASSEMBLY Impassioned oratory at an excited session of the National Assembly. .
  • Artwork chosen by Prints Online. (c) Mary Evans Picture Library 2007
  • For any queries regarding this artwork please contact Prints Online quoting Reference 586404

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