Paris attacks, an excuse for more digital surveillance

November 17, 2015
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John Brennan CIA Director
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With the Paris attacks that killed 129 still fresh in people’s mind, U.S. and European officials are forcing to magnify government surveillance powers, says The Washington Post.

The terrorist Paris attacks opened the door for government officials to request improved mass surveillance. CIA director John Brennan spoke at a conference in Washington on Monday about the situation, but he had harsh words for public “handwringing” over U.S. surveillance programs, which could be an efficient method to catch terrorism suspects.

This could be just the beginning for a new surveillance program

“I do hope that this is going to be a wake-up call.”, stated Brennan, according to the same source. The CIA director wasn’t the only high official that spoke his mind about government surveillance powers, after the Paris attacks. Also on Monday, European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said that “targeted access” to personal data is becoming “crucial” to terror investigations. This came just one day after British officials debated on Sunday if monitoring citizens’ Web browsing new legislation should be hasted.

After the attacks on Charlie Hebdo earlier this year, French authorities approved a controversial expansion of police force. But Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, feels like this new law did nothing to help people escape further violent attempts.

According to The Washington Post, the French law was passed in May and reviewed by the country’s highest constitutional authority in July, allowing officials to monitor the phone calls and e-mails of terror suspects without a warrant. Internet providers were also compelled to collect and analyze information about French Internet users, and make that information available to intelligence agencies.

Great Britain joins the fight

But France wasn’t alone in this combat against terrorism with government surveilllance laws. Prior to the Paris attacks, British officials made known the Investigatory Powers Bill, that would force telecom companies to keep records of their customers’ Web activities for up to a year, also allowing authorities search through that online history.

Now, many officials insist that this legislation should go through. Alongside them are British Prime Minister David Cameron and a former U.K. terrorism legislation official. But the law has a catch. It will also require tech companies to give law enforcement access to consumers’ encrypted Internet communications, says the same source.

Not everybody agrees with Brennan’s idea

If CIA director John Brennan wants a mass surveillance law, claiming that this will keep people safe, after the Paris attacks, Senator Ron Wyden says that giving government more power would be a big misstep. “While some people seem eager to seize on this crisis to resurrect failed policies of the past, the facts show mass surveillance doesn’t protect us from terrorist attacks.”, stated Wyden.

The White House had a strong position over the last few months: not to pursue legislation that would require companies to cooperate with authorities on encrypted content. But now the situation is very sensitive and a decision could be made in the heat of the moment.

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