France unveils new counterterrorism bill to increase surveillance of suspected extremists

PARIS — The French government unveils a new counterterrorism and intelligence bill aiming at better preventing attacks, notably via a greater surveillance of extremist websites.

The bill, which had been in preparation for months, is formally presented in a cabinet meeting just days after a French police official was killed inside her police station in what authorities are investigating as a terrorist attack.

In a news conference, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin says the text will strengthen French intelligence services’ power to watch people’s online activities.

Extremists “are using less and less phone lines and more and more internet connections,” he says.

One measure will extend the use by French intelligence services of algorithms to track down extremists online, a method already being trialed since 2015 to monitor messaging apps.

Darmanin says that using algorithms will notably enable intelligence services to spot someone who has accessed extremist websites several times.

The Tunisian national who killed a police employee in Rambouillet, south of Paris, on Friday had watched extremist videos just before carrying out his attack, a counterterrorism prosecutor said.

Prime Minister Jean Castex stresses that the bill has been part of the government’s broader counterterrorism policies since the beginning of French President Emmanuel Macron’s term in 2017.

Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed