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MEPs worried about the lack of control over trade between countries

Does Parliament, usually so obedient to the will of the state in matters of intelligence, suddenly have a desire for autonomy of thought? The report of the parliamentary intelligence delegation (DPR), published on September 28, with rather classic content, indeed contains a demand that scolds the executive.

It calls for part of the veil to be lifted on an activity which, to this day, escapes all eyes and the law: the exchange of information between French and foreign secret services. The DPR wants this issue to be debated in 2021 as part of the reform of the intelligence law passed in 2015. The government is blocking any development of the current system and intends to make only formal changes.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Controversy over the cooperation of the French secret services with their foreign counterparts

The stakes are high. Because if, in the past, this cooperation between services was limited to information emanating from human sources or written documents, it relates today, technological revolution obliges, to satellite images and especially to hundreds of millions of raw data from communication collected from the fiber optic cables that crisscross the oceans and continents. The DPR recalls that, among these data exchanged, many of them actually belong to French citizens whose privacy and rights are suddenly found without any protection.

“Legitimate to question”

“Consideration should be given to the status of technical information obtained thanks to foreign partners when it concerns French citizens”, says the DPR which reveals, in passing, that “Due to insufficient technical capacity, the French services benefit from the assistance of these partners to collect or use technical information”. These French data, says the report, are found both in the “Incoming flows” in France than in “Outgoing flows” abroad. In both cases, no mechanism can prevent the possible circumvention of French law regarding the storage or use of this data.

The DPR chooses its words and is careful not to clash head-on with the state and its services. But she seems to regret that the 2015 law excluded these exchanges from any form of surveillance, starting with that of the National Commission for the Control of Intelligence Techniques (CNCTR). If the report finds that, “For the moment, it would be inappropriate to include in the law” the supervision of these exchanges, he indicates, nevertheless, “That it is legitimate to question the level of protection of the rights of national citizens and individuals residing in our territory”.

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