15:28 GMT29 September 2020
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    The French Prime Minister announced that France unveiled a draft law on expanding the surveillance of phones and the Internet.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — France has unveiled a draft law on expanding the surveillance of phones and the Internet, the French Prime Minister said at a press conference Thursday.

    The draft law stipulates that French intelligence services would be able to spy on the digital and mobile devices of suspected terrorists without prior authorization from a judge.

    "It is necessary to strengthen supervision and improve the speed of detection. There cannot be a lawless zone in the digital space," Manuel Valls told reporters Thursday.

    The bill is part of France's counter-terror legislation. It will be discussed in the parliament in April and should be approved by July.

    Valls also assured that this law is in no way a French prototype of the US Patriot Act, a law put into effect on October 26, 2001 to deter and intercept terrorist acts in the United States and around the world.

    "There will be no mass surveillance," Valls said.

    On Wednesday, Amnesty International said France's new intelligence bill would lead to extremely intrusive surveillance without any legal pre-authorization.

    The bill's presentation came after France blocked five websites on Monday after they had allegedly condoned terrorism. The move was criticized by the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe over the excessive restriction on civil liberties.

    However, the French government stood by such measures, saying they were crucial for effectively tackling possible terror threats, especially in the wake of January's deadly jihadist attacks in Paris and the Tunisian museum shootings on Wednesday.

    According to an Ipsos survey conducted in January, over 70 percent of French citizens supported the idea of bugging without a warrant from a judge.


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