In its efforts to 'protect' its citizens from terrorists, France deemed it necessary in March to "fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy," and drastically reduced the public's freedom and privacy to spend. Today, that freedom and privacy took another blow as the French government passed "Le Patriot Act" dramatically beefing up the government's spying powers.
First a ban on cash... French Finance Minister Michel Sapin brazenly stated that it was necessary to "fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy." He then announced extreme and despotic measures to further restrict the use of cash by French residents and to spy on and pry into their financial affairs.
These measures, which will be implemented in September 2015, include:
Prohibiting French residents from making cash payments of more than 1,000 euros, down from the current limit of 3,000 euros.
Given the parlous state of the stagnating French economy the limit for foreign tourists on currency payments will remain higher, at 10,000 euros down from the current limit of 15,000 euros.
The threshold below which a French resident is free to convert euros into other currencies without having to show an identity card will be slashed from the current level of 8,000 euros to 1,000 euros.
In addition any cash deposit or withdrawal of more than 10,000 euros during a single month will be reported to the French anti-fraud and money laundering agency Tracfin.
French authorities will also have to be notified of any freight transfers within the EU exceeding 10,000 euros, including checks, pre-paid cards, or gold.
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And now, as Bloomberg reports, a 'ban' on personal privacy...
A proposed French law beefing up the government’s spying powers following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris sailed through the lower house of parliament.
The National Assembly said 438 lawmakers voted in favor, 86 against, and 42 abstained. The bill now goes to the Senate which can suggest amendments but not overturn the assembly’s vote.
The wide margin of victory came even as mounting opposition to the bill united business leaders, the Communist Party, Internet activists and lawyers. The country’s two main parties -- the ruling Socialists and former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP -- back it as necessary to combat terrorism, even though some prominent members of both parties voted against it.
The bill has generated heated rhetoric: the head of the Paris Bar and a former head of the country’s business lobby said it will seriously undermine constitutional liberties while Prime Minister Manuel Valls accused opponents of being naive about the threats facing France. The fallout from the disclosure in 2013 of massive surveillance by U.S. authorities, and the enduring negative reputation of George W. Bush’s 2001 “Patriot Act” have added to the controversy.
“This law doesn’t go as far as the Patriot Act because that was never its founders’ intention and because even if they wanted to copy their American counterparts, the French services lack the means to listen to everyone permanently,” said Eric Denece, director of the French Center for the Study of Intelligence.
The proposed law sets rules on how investigators can tap phone lines, locate people through mobile phones, intercept e-mails, take secret photographs and enter homes to place microphones without preliminary approval of a judge. It also creates a new independent body overseeing surveillance activities. And for the first time, it gives France’s top administrative court the power to order an end to surveillance.
Opponents have focused on its supposed lack of effective oversight, its wide definition of threats facing France, and the use of algorithms to analyze communication patterns.
“Serious flaws include expansive powers for the prime minister to authorize surveillance for purposes far beyond those recognized in international human rights law; lack of meaningful judicial oversight; requirements for private service providers to monitor and analyze user data and report suspicious patterns; prolonged retention periods for some captured data; and little public transparency,” Human Rights Watch said in a April 6 statement.
Don't forget - it's for your own protection.. and if you do not agree - you're a terrorist too:
Valls rejected the criticism in his speech to parliament.
“The law is strictly focused on preventing serious threats,” he said. “The criticisms and postures that evoke a French Patriot Act or a police state are irresponsible lies.”
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Feel safer now?