France expands reach of Intel files despite concerns

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PARIS
Police and gendarmes in France will be able to record a wide range of personal information about activists, protesters and groups, including their political opinions, religious affiliations, union memberships, health data and network activities. social security in the name of state security.

On January 4, the Council of State – France’s highest administrative court – rejected the appeal of several central unions that the cases were “dangerous”, saying the three contested decrees “did not disproportionately affect freedom of opinion, conscience and religion. or freedom of association, ”reports the daily Le Parisien.

The General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the Labor Force (FO), the Unitary Trade Union Federation (FSU), the Lawyers ‘Union (SAF), the Magistrates’ Union, the Information and Support Group for Immigrants (GISTI) , the Union Syndicale Solidaires and the National The Union of Students of France (UNEF) had collectively appealed against the decrees, which considerably broaden the scope of three police and gendarmerie cases.

The decision related to three decrees of the Ministry of the Interior of December 4 amending the provisions of the Internal Security Code relating to the processing of personal data entitled “Prevention of attacks on public security” (PASP) used by the police “ . management and prevention of attacks on public security ”(GIPASP), used by the gendarmerie, and“ Investigations and administrative procedures related to public security ”or (EASP), used by the civil administration.

Previously, the enforcement of decrees was limited to personal information about persons involved in terrorist activities. The new amendments widen the scope of application to persons and groups undermining the integrity of the territory or the institutions of the Republic, fundamental interests of the nation or constituting a terrorist threat attacking these interests. It also replaces the words “endanger public safety” with “state security”.

Among the categories of information on which files can record data are behavior and lifestyle; social media activities; sports practices; religious practices and behavior, political opinions, philosophical or religious convictions or trade union membership and data on health.

In November 2020, the Ministry of the Interior had recorded data on 60,686 people under PASP, 67,000 people under GIPASP and 221,711 under EASP. They involve people in illegal demonstrations; violence and vandalism at sporting events, hate speech, stigma and attacks against certain communities, radicalization and attempting to travel abroad to join terrorist groups among other categories.

Rights groups and unions have pointed out that under the amended decrees, civil and political activists, protesters, social media groups and occupiers can now be subjected to police. They maintain that the decrees undermine rights and freedoms and indicate an authoritarian drift.

The CGT and other unions said in a statement that they would appeal again to the Council of State to obtain the cancellation of the most worrying provisions of the contested decrees.

“These files can have direct consequences on the professional situation of certain employees. They are directly consulted for all administrative inquiries prior to recruiting, assignments, transfers, approval or authorization decisions for certain jobs and by the prefectures on the occasion of requests for residence or naturalization permits by foreigners ”, adds the press release.

In 2008, the Ministry of the Interior had to withdraw its decree collecting personal information on people including minors and organizations likely to disturb public order in an EDVIGE digital file following national outrage.
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