French law enforcement could soon be given broad powers to track down suspected criminals. This was reported by Engadget.
Lawmakers in France’s National Assembly have passed a bill that allows police to track suspects by remotely activating cameras, microphones and GPS-location systems on phones and other devices.
A judge would have to approve the use of these powers, and recent amendments to the bill prohibit their use against journalists, lawyers and other “sensitive professions,” according to Le Monde.
Such measures can only be applied for a period of six months and only in the case of serious cases punishable by at least five years in prison.
An earlier version of the bill has passed the Senate, but the amendment will need the approval of that legislature before it becomes law.
Digital rights group La Quadrature du Net previously pointed to the potential for abuse. Because the bill does not clearly define what constitutes a serious crime, there are fears that the French government could use it to prosecute environmental activists and others who do not pose a serious threat. The organization also notes that troubling security policies tend to extend to less serious crimes.
Instead, Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti says the powers will only be used in “dozens” of cases a year.