France approves the principle of portable “snitches”

France approves the principle of portable “snitches”

MEPs have given the green light to a sensitive provision of Eric Dupond-Moretti’s justice bill: the possibility of remotely activating mobile phones to listen to and film people targeted in certain investigations without their knowledge.

“Very dangerous slope” or “technological adaptation”? A majority of the Assembly in any case approved the article which carries this measure, by 80 votes against 24.

The deputies of the presidential camp, LR and RN voted in favor. Those of Nupes voted against, like the president of the Liot group, Bertrand Pancher.

The article allows the remote activation of mobile phones, computers and other connected objects in two distinct cases.

The first device authorizes geolocation to follow in real time the movements of persons targeted in the context of an investigation for a crime or misdemeanor punishable by at least five years of imprisonment. The Senate wanted to limit this measure to crimes and misdemeanors punishable by ten years’ imprisonment, but the Assembly returned to the government’s version.

The second part allows remote sound and image capture of people targeted this time in cases of terrorism as well as delinquency and organized crime. The capture concerns only “dozens of cases per year”, insists Eric Dupond-Moretti.

The left is upwind against these provisions “of intrusion into private life”, LFI evoking an “authoritarian drift” and recalling the criticisms of lawyers or NGOs.

An amendment by the deputy of the presidential camp Naïma Moutchou (Horizons) specifies that the recording must be put in place “when the nature and seriousness of the facts justify it” and “for a duration strictly proportionate” to the objective.

But for the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, “there are people whose lives we will save”: “We are far from the totalitarianism of +1984+”, the novel by George Orwell.

Teleconsultation in police custody

The presidential camp emphasizes the “guarantees” provided. The capture would be reserved for the “most serious” cases and authorized for 15 days renewable once by the judge of freedoms and detention, and two months renewable by an examining magistrate up to a maximum duration of six months.

Eric Dupond-Moretti compares it to the “old technique” of microphones or cameras placed in suspects’ homes. Another argument: the remote triggering of connected devices is already used by “intelligence services”, without the authorization of the judge, who will be essential here.

In committee, the deputies had reinforced “safeguards” with more professions “protected” from these investigative techniques: doctors and journalists in addition to lawyers, magistrates and parliamentarians.

The LFI group, opposed to the measure as such, however had bailiffs and notaries removed from the “protected” professions by amendment, considering that there was no valid reason for them to be so, and not the rest of the population.

In this vast article 3 of the text are also provided for the extension of the use of night searches and the possibility of using a teleconsultation for a medical examination during an extension of police custody.

MPs from several opposition groups tried unsuccessfully to remove the possibility for a judge, under certain conditions, to place under house arrest with electronic monitoring a person who was released from pre-trial detention due to an error of procedure. Provision that they consider liberticidal.

Today, only placement under judicial control is possible. “It’s an additional modality,” defended the minister.

“Because of the lack of means of justice, would there be more errors (of procedures) which makes you propose to cover irregularities by making them regular? “, replied the communist deputy Elsa Faucillon.

In the evening the deputies approved a provision to strengthen the presence of insurers in hearings in the criminal courts for minors, and to improve the procedures for compensation.

They also validated the mandatory presence of a lawyer during an agreement made via a public interest legal agreement (CJIP), a procedure which allows a company to settle a dispute and avoid prosecution by paying a fine to the ‘State.


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