Lawmakers back 'Orwellian' video-surveillance bill

24th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 24 (AFP) - French lawmakers on Thursday backed government plans to allow greatly increased video-surveillance of public places, a key provision of a new anti-terrorism bill drawn up following the London transport bombings.

PARIS, Nov 24 (AFP) - French lawmakers on Thursday backed government plans to allow greatly increased video-surveillance of public places, a key provision of a new anti-terrorism bill drawn up following the London transport bombings.

After a first reading of the bill, the lower house national assembly approved the articles allowing video cameras to be set up in public locations including on the transport network, in places of worship and in shops.

Companies would also be allowed to film the outskirts of their premises and police would be able to access the footage under the new law, which will be put to a final vote in parliament on Tuesday.

State-appointed regional governors, or prefects, would also be able to ask for surveillance cameras to be installed on sites considered at risk of an attack -- such as transport hubs and industrial or nuclear plants.

France currently has just 60,000 video cameras in public places compared to four million in Britain.

Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who drew up the legislation following the attacks on London's transport network in July, was reportedly inspired by British investigators' use of video footage to identify the perpetrators.

Sarkozy has insisted the bill strikes the right balance between security and the respect of personal freedoms -- despite protests from Green party deputy Noël Mamère that it paves the way for an "Orwellian" society.

The interior minister warned as he presented the bill on Wednesday that France faced a "real" threat of an extremist attack, and that it needed to raise its defences.

The country is particularly concerned about the threat posed by young French Muslims who go to fight alongside insurgents in Iraq -- of whom intelligence services know of 22 so far -- and return to France with a radicalised agenda.

France has also been singled out as a target by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), an Algerian insurgent group with links to the al-Qaeda Islamist terror network.

The national assembly was to vote on the bill's provisions one by one, before putting the full text to the vote on Tuesday.

If approved, it will then need to be ratified by the upper house senate in order to become law.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article