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U.S. lawmakers watch as France poised to pass controversial surveillance law

Protesters holding placards reading
Protesters holding placards reading "Stop to mass surveillance" take part on May 4, 2015 in Paris in a demonstration against the government's controversial bill giving spies sweeping new surveillance powers, deemed "heavily intrusive" by critics.

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France is close to approving a controversial new surveillance law that would allow intelligence agencies to place cameras and recording devices in suspects' homes and cars without authorization from a judge.

Instead, with the exception of immediate threats, they would need to request permission from an independent nine-person panel composed of magistrates, lawmakers and a communication expert. Another controversial measure would force communication and Internet firms to allow intelligence services to install electronic "lock-boxes" to record metadata from all Internet users in the country.

The metadata would then be subject to algorithmic analysis for potentially suspicious behavior. Hundreds of people protested the proposed law Monday. Opponents say the bill legalizes highly intrusive surveillance methods without guarantees for individual freedom and privacy. Reporters Without Borders said the bill "poses a grave new threat to the confidentiality of journalists' sources."

With files from Associated Press


Gary Schmitt, director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank; former staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and author most recently of Safety, Liberty, and Islamist Terrorism: American and European Approaches to Domestic Counterterrorism

Axel Simon, works with La Quadrature du Net (LQDN), a French digital activist organization that opposes the proposed law