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French Council of State rejects appeal against security data collection

France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State (Le Conseil d’Etat), rejected an appeal by six trade unions on 4 January against three Ministry of the Interior decrees that would enable police and the gendarmerie to hold information on subjects’ political, religious, and union affiliations, along with health and social media data. The Council ruled that the decrees did not infringe upon freedom of opinion, religion, or choice of union.

The 4 December 2020 decrees amended the Internal Security Code relating to three areas of processing personal data: the prevention of attacks on public security (prévention des atteintes à la sécurité publique: PASP), used by police; information management and prevention of attacks on public security (gestion de l'information et prévention des atteintes à la sécurité publique: GIPASP), used by the gendarmerie; and investigations and administrative procedures related to public security (enquêtes administratives liées à la sécurité publique: EASP), used in civil service vetting.

Before the 4 December amendment, the three areas of information were applied to violent protesters and individuals suspected of “hooliganism”. The amendment widened the application to include individuals suspected of terrorism or those seeking “to undermine the integrity of the territory or the institutions of the Republic”.

The body that oversees the use of the files, the National Commission for Data Processing and Freedoms (Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés: CNIL), said on 4 December that “the wording of certain categories of data is particularly broad”, echoing criticisms from newspaper editorials and trade unions over the vagueness of the language.

The amendments were the latest in a series of changes to French security legislation that have attracted opposition and controversy. Media outlets – including the website of the French television magazine Télérama

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