French Senate adopts anti-terrorism bill with controversial provisions

PARIS

The French Senate on Wednesday morning passed a controversial bill aimed at strengthening counterterrorism and intelligence measures with provisions to close places of worship and block access to secret state archives to bolster internal security.

The bill, which was approved by the National Assembly earlier this month, was adopted by 251 votes to 27.

Lawmakers voted in favor of several contentious provisions, including strengthening internet surveillance, which will allow government authorities to analyze internet algorithms and browsing data provided by telecom operators that may characterize a terrorist threat.

Defense Minister Florence Parly defended the provision as not violating the privacy and personal data of citizens. She said the provision did not represent “a surveillance system, as is too often heard, but a detection tool allowing for better targeting, if necessary, surveillance,” according to a report from the channel. of public television Senat.

Another provision concerns the closure of places of worship as well as premises managed, operated or financed – directly or indirectly – by the manager of the place of worship which host public meetings, as well as the blocking of access to classified archives. defense ‘for a period of 50 years, an approach denounced by several academics, academics and researchers. In March, President Emmanuel Macron listed restrictions on the declassification of secret National Defense documents until 1970, including those relating to the Algerian War, the Indochina War and World War II on an immediate basis. .

The “Access to public archives” collective described the development of the approval of the law as a “dark night” which, for the first time in France, closes access to public archives.

“The vast majority of their archives become inaccessible, with no other time limit than that decided by these same services. Until now, on the contrary, these documents became automatically communicable to citizens at the end of periods ranging from fifty to one hundred years ”, specifies a press release published by the association.

Lawmakers from the environmental group have raised a motion to dismiss the archival provision.

“In recent years, France has been the scene of a succession of security laws which are intended to be anti-terrorism but above all destructive of freedom”, declared Esther Benbassa of Europe Ecology – Green Party (EELV).

Citizenship Minister Marlene Schiappa, for her part, defended the balanced bill as “essential” to those fighting against the terrorist threat.

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