Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


Spent yesterday reporting on debate about a French law that increases the means of high tech surveillance.

Besides getting a chance to see the sumptuous interior of the Assemblee Nationale (where the press room has gold festooned napoleonic decorations) I got a chance to look at the French attitude towards police power versus individual liberties.

New provisions:

* Increased video surveillance around public buildings, companies, places of worship and transportation centers like train stations and airports. Current restrictions on such surveillance mean that France employs fewer than 100,000 cameras; Britain has more than four million.

* Police officials and prosecutors in France would also have easier access to the data supplied to obtain car registrations, driving licenses, identity cards and passports.

* Internet cafés that allow anonymous surfing would be required to keep a record for up to one year of all sites visited.

Such information collection has raised concerns at the government-financed National Commission for Data and Liberty.

Is this intrusive or necessary for safety?


No. What's necessary is for the state sponsored Zionist/JUDEO-Christian international terrorists to start minding their own business, and quit harassing, threatening, bombing, imposing crippling trade sanctions, launching wars of aggression, etc., on other sovereign states.

If England didn't have all those surviellance cameras, the London tube bombing plot would have succeeded, and it would have been a great tragedy.

Oh, wait! It did succeed. Perhaps we should remember what Ben Franklin said about ending up with neither.

If people held themselves accountable, we wouldn't need a government to monitor us so closely. Of course terrorists will not co-operate - but then that would make them easily recognisable in a crowd.

It will be perceived as less invasive as to Americans, I guess. We have had an ID card system for a very long time, and we are used to present it at the request of the police at any time. Let's not forget that Paris has been at the receiving end of islamic terror many times.

But at the same time, when I look at the sloppy way IDs are checked at Roissy and Orly, one has to wonder...

Yes, the minority reports are already being worked. Echelon systems are prowling. Fr is part of that already. Covert ops is rarely ratified by a government.however in the name of security it does becomE possible. What's happening in fr is the same as what the americans have as the patriot act. Other countries have it.

So all that intel is currently being collectd- but the governments are seeking ways of saying - now we can do it legally !!

I think that the added surveillance as a reaction to terrorism is generally a bad thing. Intelligence agencies are already having trouble digesting what information they have. It's not as much a matter of gathering more intelligence as it is processing it.

National ID and ID systems are also generally a bad idea. The professional terrorists and criminals will get fake IDs and the privacy of normal civilians will be impinged more than anything.

I've written a lot about this in the past and will post something else here if necessary, ;-) but I think that more than anything, terrorism is being used as an excuse to ramp up the power of surveillance which is much easier to ratchet up than to ratchet down. Also, once the data has been collected, it is now nearly impossible to get rid of it. I think the damage to democracy caused by the chilling effect of this kind of surveillance outweighs the risk caused by not conducting this surveillance.

The cameras are just one tentacle of the French attempts to control its people. I recently posted about proposed French legislation to filter (i.e. censor) the Internet in a longer post about WSIS. See

Living in France, and having been in US and UK after leaving my former country, Italy, i have to say that the international newspapers are giving a big evidence to the late issues in France...

But, it has to be remembered that in France the number of cameras in public places is far from the ones in UK: 10% of installed cameras in the world are in the UK (in 2007 25millions).

So, please stop talking of the return of repression in France...

Also, the state sponsored Zionist/JUDEO-Christian international terrorist offense budget, approaching $1/2-a-trillion a year, needs to be cut drastically. Vested interests of the military industrial complex will do everything in their power to encourage international instability and armed conflicts in justifying the reauthorization of those astronomical expenditures.

"Internet cafés that allow anonymous surfing would be required to keep a record for up to one year of all sites visited."

-- so this will make France more secure by how?

Police officer: Hello we are looking for this man. We believe he came to your Internet café 8 months ago. Can we see the logs of the machine he used.

Internet café: huh?

*IF* they wanted to do it "properly", they would have banned anonymous Internet café browsing.

*sigh* welcome to Fortress Europe, ala the US.

I agree with Joi's assessment here. More surveillance is not the solution to countering terrorism since terrorists will find a way around it, as will any criminal. All the surveillance achieves is the policing of regular civilians.

Look at what happened in Las Vegas (this from NPR's On The Media):

BARTON GELLMAN: At the end of 2003 there was an Orange Alert. One of the reasons was a fragmentary report that there might be a terrorist attack in Las Vegas around the New Year. They had no information on suspects, and so they tried for the first time ever to create an instant real-time moving census of every tourist and visitor in the city during its most visited period of the year. They sifted through about a million people who were considered potential suspects to see if they could find any match with any other indicator in their big database of the terrorist universe. So they used grand jury subpoenas, they used national security letters and they got every hotel guest, every air passenger, every person who rented a car or a truck or a storage space, and they made a giant database out of that and started sifting it.

BOB GARFIELD: And what did they come up with?

BARTON GELLMAN: In the parlance of the intelligence community, the whole thing washed out. They had no suspects. There was no attack. They had an undeniably important motivation here, but one of the prices that the country has paid for that is that on the order of a million people are now in government databases and are staying there. So if you got a Las Vegas hotel room and maybe if you were there with someone you ought not to have been there with, what happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas.

You can read the whole transcript at:

I want a pony.

And a GreaseMonkey script to filter out comments about the jewish conspiracy.

And I don't think these laws will make us safer. I'll still want a pony, after all.

Re 14- michel v

LoL! I know...I hate it when that happens.


According to the French politicians working to pass the law - it may have even been in the speech by Sarkozy, the interior minister - it IS useful to have information late and phone records, but not phone calls.

Their logic is that they can trace a network and link people together, even months after a simple communication.

"Internet cafés that allow anonymous surfing would be required to keep a record for up to one year of all sites visited."

this is disturbing, yes, but then they are trying to log the internet-café sites as they probably are already loging all the adsl and cable action!

we should forget all those french men who fought (and wrote) for freedom! they are, like young french say it here, passé.

nobody reads them anyway, they watch Star Academy on tv and read stupid blogs!
french literature is dead, long live french logs.

I think this kind of policy security is a big mistake. In London, with yours 4 millon video-surveillance cameras, a brazilian was murdered without reasons!!! Being a brazilian, a proud one, I'm against these ridiculous policies...

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