Systematic government access to private-sector data in France

• In regulating access to data by law enforcement and the intelligence services, France distinguishes between different levels of government intrusions into privacy: for example, real-time interception of private correspondence, whether by telephone, e-mail or instant messaging; cloning or monitoring a computer terminal at a distance by the police; or requiring disclosure of stored computer data.

• Post 11 September 2001 France enacted provisions to require telecommunications operators and providers of hosting services to retain significant amounts of traffic data and so-called ‘identification data’, a requirement which implements relevant EU instruments, but tends to go beyond the retention of data required by EU law.

• France's intelligence agencies have wide-ranging powers to collect data and conduct interceptions, as indicated in recent news reports, but questions exist as to what protections, if any, exist for intelligence surveillance conducted by the authorities outside of France, as well as for ‘general monitoring for radio transmissions’ conducted within France or as part of general monitoring of radio transmissions.

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