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Spy plan alarms internet firms

Internet giants call for moratorium on French law giving extensive real-time surveillance powers

SOME of the internet’s biggest companies have asked France for a moratorium on a new law that would grant extensive real-time spying powers, without prior judicial approval.

The law was already passed, largely unnoticed, in the Senate, and is debated in the National Assembly today.

However, firms such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Skype, Dailymotion, Deezer and AOL have criticised the scale of the project through their group the Association des Services Internet Communautaires (@sic).

The law would allow several government agencies, not only security forces, to monitor the real-time activities and location of millions of computers and phones.

As well as the military, other agencies including the finance ministry would also have access to the system, according the newspaper Le Figaro.

Le president of @sic, Giuseppe de Martino, called for a moratorium on the project and said he was surprised by the lack of action from the civil liberties agency Cnil, which normally pursues cases related to personal data storage.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said an independent authority, the Commission nationale de contrôle des interceptions de sécurité would oversee the reception of data and location information.

A prefect told Le Figaro: “When the Merah affair [in which a racist gunman killed seven people and seriously injured five others] hit, people said the police did not know how to spot it. Now, the same people are reproaching the services for wanting to anticipate it.”

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