A wide variety of government officials could gain access to live data concerning users of ISPs and online services including content-hosting sites, without the approval of a judge, under a draft law approved by members of the French National Assembly on Friday.
The measure, a rider on the 2014-2019 defense appropriation bill, would require ISPs and content hosting companies to provide government officials with access to details of their users’ activity without judicial oversight. Law enforcement officials can already ask a judge for an order to access such data.
If the bill becomes law, it will no longer be necessary to go via the courts to obtain such access, and the number of government officials who could access the data would be much broader, potentially including those responsible for collecting taxes. Requests for access to such data could be approved by an appointee of the Prime Minister for periods of up to 30 days, renewable on demand. The requests could be made by designated officials of the Ministries of Defense, the Interior or Finance, and would be reviewed after the fact by a committee responsible for auditing wiretapping orders. The process by which the committee might revoke approval is slow, however.