France plans to strengthen its counter-terrorism laws by permitting the use of algorithims to detect activity on jihadist and other extremist websites. A draft legislation was submitted to President Emmanuel Macron and his government at a cabinet meeting today. In recent years, France has been facing a wave of Islamist and Islamist-inspired attacks, including killing of a police employee in a Paris commuter town five days ago.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that the last nine attacks on French soil were committed by individuals who were unknown to the security services, were not on a watchlist and not suspected of being radicalized. He added that terrorists have changed the methods of communication while the agencies continue to monitor phone lines that nobody uses any more.
France enacted a counter-terrorism law in 2017 to replace a state of emergency declared two years earlier following the attack on Paris by Islamist suicide bombers and gunmen. The 2017 law, which was subject to review after four years, allowed security agencies to use algorithims to monitor messaging apps, as well bolstering police surveillance measures such as ‘home visits’ to individuals suspected of terrorism links and the restricting the movement of people The new bill would render those measures permanent and extend the use of algorithims to websites.
The bill would give security agencies more power to watch over and limit the movements of high-risk individuals after release from jail for two years rather than one. Furthermore, it would give judges the authority to impose follow-up measures, including psychiatric care, on prisoners who served at least five years for terrorism-related offences in an effort to reduce repeat offences.