Following a terrorist attack, it is not uncommon to hear calls from politicians and government officials for increased surveillance. Fear and grief can lead to quick “solutions” that have significant consequences; as we pointed out last week, some of the most far-reaching surveillance and law enforcement powers around the world were devised in the wake of tragedies.
That’s why what we’re hearing this week—in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo—alarms us. On Friday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls suggested that “it will be necessary to take further measures” to address the threat of terrorism, despite the fact that French intelligence had collected “reams of intelligence” on the terror suspects, and despite a draconian anti-terror law established last November. As our German colleagues point out in a joint statement, France already has some of the strictest security measures in Europe.
Although Valls also stated that no law should be “built in haste,” our friends at French advocacy group La Quadrature du Net noted that in the days following the attack, the government notified Brussels (as required by law) of their intent to administratively block websites without judicial review under LOPPSI that incite, glorify, or justify terrorism. The decree was submitted under emergency seal allowing the French government to disappear whatever websites they deem unfit.