Five bar owners in France have been arrested in Grenoble for offering public WiFi without keeping connection logs and spying on its users.
All establishments offering public WiFi in France are required to keep logs tracking WiFi users since 2006.
Shockingly, cafe and bar owners found in violation of this law face a maximum of one year in prison and a maximum fine of euro 75,000.
The bar owners said they were unaware of the law, but whether restaurants are aware of the law or not, it does not
change the fact that the law is a testament to the infringement of privacy by the French government. The existence of the law means that the public should avoid using public WiFi and/or use a VPN.
The French government has come up with an innovative way of financing a program of mass social media, surveillance, to use it to detect tax fraud.
The self financing surveillance scheme has now been given the go the constitutional court. Customs and
tax officials will be allowed to review users' profiles, posts and pictures for evidence of undisclosed income.
In its ruling, the court acknowledged that users' privacy and freedom of expression could be compromised, but its applied caveats to
the legislation. It said authorities would have to ensure that password-protected content was off limits and that they would only be able to use public information pertaining to the person divulging it online. However the wording suggests that the non
public data is available and can be used for other more covert reasons.
The mass collection of data is part of a three-year online monitoring experiment by the French government and greatly increases the state's online surveillance powers.
France's highest authority on constitutional matters has approved a controversial bill that gives the state sweeping new powers to spy on citizens.
The constitutional council made only minor tweaks to the legislation, which human rights and
privacy campaigners, as well as the United Nations, have described as paving the way for very intrusive surveillance and state-approved eavesdropping and computer-hacking.
An 18-strong United Nations committee for human rights warned that
the surveillance powers granted to French intelligence agencies were excessively broad . It said the the bill grants overly broad powers for very intrusive surveillance on the basis of vast and badly defined objectives and called on
France to guarantee that any interference in private life must conform to principles of legality, proportionality and necessity .
Amnesty International warned that the French state was giving itself extremely large and intrusive powers
with no judicial control.
The bill gives the country's secret services the right to eavesdrop on the digital and mobile phone communications of anyone linked to a terrorist inquiry and install secret cameras and recording devices in
private homes without requesting prior permission from a judge.
Intelligence agencies can also place keylogger devices on computers that record keystrokes in real time. Internet and phone service providers will be forced to install black
boxes that will alert the authorities to suspicious behaviour online. The same companies will be forced to hand over information if asked. Recordings can be kept for a month, and metadata for five years.
A special advisory group, the National
Commission for the Control of Intelligence Techniques, made up of magistrates, MPs and senators from the upper house of parliament, will be consulted instead of a judge.
The French parliament has approved a controversial law extending mass snooping capabilities of the intelligence services, with the aim of preventing Islamist attacks.
The law on intelligence-gathering, adopted by 438 votes to 86, was drafted after
muslim terrorists attacked the Charlie Hebdo office and a Jewish supermarket.
The Socialist government says the law is needed to take account of changes in communications technology. But critics say it is a dangerous extension of mass
The new law define new purposes for which secret intelligence-gathering may be used. It sets up a supervisory body, the National Commission for Control of Intelligence Techniques (CNCTR), with wider rules of operation. And inevitably
it authorises new methods, such as the bulk collection of metadata via internet providers
One online advocacy group, La Quadrature du Net, wrote after the vote:
Representatives of the French people have given
the Prime Minister the power to undertake massive and limitless surveillance of the population.
Google and Facebook are among a group of net heavyweights taking the French government to court.
The legal challenge at the State Council, France's highest judicial body, has been brought by The French Association of Internet Community Services
(ASIC) and relates to government plans to keep web users' personal data for a year.
More than 20 firms are involved, including eBay and Dailymotion.
The law obliges a range of e-commerce sites, video and music services and webmail providers
to keep a host of data on customers. This includes users' full names, postal addresses, telephone numbers and passwords.
The data must be handed over to the authorities if demanded. Police, the fraud office, customs, tax and social security bodies
will all have the right of access.
ASIC head Benoit Tabaka believes that the data law is unnecessarily draconian. ASIC also thinks that passwords should not be collected and warned that retaining them could have security implications.
Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered a rethink of his government's new police database, which is designed to track people as young as 13 and record details such as the sexual orientation and health records of political candidates and trade unionists.
president has been forced to backtrack after rebellion in his cabinet and a public outcry in which civil liberties campaigners and lawyers suggested France was being turned into a Big Brother state. The accusations threaten to be particularly damaging to
the president, who has closely associated himself with policing and security issues.
The security database, known under the acronym Edvige, goes further than any previous French system, gathering personal information on health and sexual
orientation and dropping the minimum age for surveillance from 18 to 13. It would allow security officials to track anyone considered a possible threat to public order , and target anyone who has ever stood for public office, politicians,
activists, religious figures, trade unionists and business leaders, or anyone playing a role in economic life. Information on health, illnesses, religion, tax, relationships and friendships would be held.
Lawyer Jean-Marc Fedida told Le Parisien
the database opened up the possibility of tracking the entire population of France. The defence minister, Hervé Morin, has condemned the tracking of politicians, and the human rights minister, Rama Yade, urged clarification of the inclusion
of details on sexual orientation.
Sarkozy yesterday urged his cabinet not to break ranks and has ordered a government review and decisions to protect liberties.
The government could drop the details on sexual orientation and health, but
the president is unlikely to relent on tracking children over 13. Youth crime and delinquency and unrest on poor estates are key issues for the president.
The French populace is raising its collective voice in opposition to an arbitrary government decree establishing a national database that many of its critics view as excessively intrusive and ripe for oppressive authoritarian abuse.
an order revealed July 1st, the 'Edvige' database would contain data about French citizens 13 years of age and older who are active in politics or labor unions, have significant institutional, economic, social or religious roles, or who are considered by
the authorities - without probable cause for suspicion - to be likely to breach public order.
Information collected, correlated and analysed could include names and addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, physical appearance (and likely
biometrics too), behavioural traits, financial and tax records, plus details about other people who have personal ties to the individual. Critics say the data could extend to ethnic origins and sexual preferences.
Earlier this week, the
opposition politician Francois Bayrou said, With just a few clicks of the mouse, any government official or civil servant will have access to intimate data.
Diverse constituencies of French citizens including magistrates' bodies, labor
unions, gay rights groups and defenders of human rights and civil liberties have objected that Edvige appears intended to enable the government to intrude excessively on its citizens' privacy.
Michel Pezet, a lawyer and a former member of a
French electronic privacy body, wrote: There is nothing in the decree that sets limits or a framework. Whether the database is used with or without moderation depends only on orders from up high.
The Sarkozy government claims the Edvige
database would merely centralise information that is already being gathered and retained by separate public security organisations that have recently been merged together.
An online petition calling for the government to abandon its plans to
establish Edvige has collected more than 103,700 signatures since July 10th, according to its website.
Several public interest groups have already lodged formal appeals with the Conseil d'Etat, France's highest administrative court, asking that
it compel the state to cancel its decree establishing the Edvige database.
One would hope that the right-wing government of Nicolas Sarkozy might recall France's glorious heritage of "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité"
before its citizens recall some other old French traditions from the days of the Revolution... torches, pitchforks and the guillotine.