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The law on police drones has been adopted in the Assembly: what now?

The National Assembly approved at first reading the bill which deals in particular with the use of surveillance drones by the police. The text is now going to the Senate.

34 votes in favor, 8 against and 6 abstentions. It is in a very sparse hemicycle that the National Assembly approved, on September 23, the bill on criminal responsibility and internal security, in first reading. The parliamentary examination of this law is not finished: the text must now go to the Senate, first in the law committee, then in session.

Various provisions make up the bill defended by the government, including the use by the police of drones equipped with cameras. For those who follow legislative news, the measures contained in this text are in fact a resumption of those which already appeared in the proposed law on comprehensive security, but which had been censored by the Constitutional Council.

At the time, the body responsible for verifying the constitutionality of legal texts had not objected in principle to such use of drone surveillance, but it had refused at the time these provisions, because they did not were not properly balanced. The framework was too broad and the guarantees insufficient. Clearly, the text leaned too much on the preservation of public order, to the detriment of respect for private life.

Supervision deemed insufficient

A rewrite has therefore taken place, taking advantage of this bill to put the police drones back in the saddle. Contrary to what was proposed with the proposed law on comprehensive security, the new drone surveillance measures are presented by the government as more fair. They were notably seen by the Council of State, which was not the case before.

But this opinion is not unanimously shared. Thus, the Defender of Rights was very critical in an opinion delivered to Parliament on September 20. Admittedly, she noted that guarantees were added compared to what was envisaged in the other text. However, ambiguous formulations lead him to believe that it would be possible to circumvent these safeguards in certain circumstances.

surveillance drone
A previous text already proposed similar provisions, but they were not sufficiently framed. // Source: EFF

Among the associations too, this new approach does not convince at all. ” Two judgments of the Council of State, a decision of the CNIL and a decision of the Constitutional Council will not have been enough: the government wants to deploy drones in the public space. Fixed cameras, nomads, pedestrians are not enough for him, it is necessary to monitor, even more “, sagacious thus La Quadrature du Net.

For the association, whose reflection goes beyond knowing whether the guarantees proposed in the text are suitable or not, it is the very principle of this monitoring that is a problem. ” The government wants to believe that it is responding to the criticisms of the Constitutional Council, but it uses the same text with marginal modifications which do not detract from its deeply liberticidal character. “.

Many amendments (41 in all) were tabled on Article 8, which is the one at the center of attention. Only 12 of them were adopted, all exclusively proposed either by Jean-Michel Mis (the rapporteur of the text to the National Assembly, which tabled 11) or by the government (only one). However, these amendments have hardly touched the substance, but only the form.

On the contrary, with the government amendment, there was an extension of the provisions of the article to customs officers.

The version of this article 8 which is now going to the Senate has therefore hardly changed at first reading. It remains to be seen what the upper house of parliament will do. But for La Quadrature du Net, it is obvious: the vote which took place at first reading in the Assembly is ” yet another proof that there is nothing to expect from Parliament to protect us from government security abuses “.

Head to the Senate

If the Senate votes on a text different from the one that was validated in the National Assembly, it will be necessary to set up a joint committee between the two chambers (composed of seven senators and seven deputies) to try to erase the disparities and lead to a single legislative text. If an agreement fails, the National Assembly will have the last word.

It will then be necessary to promulgate the text, which is a prerogative of the President of the Republic. He has fifteen days to do so. The law is then published in the Official Journal and then comes into force the following day (except for measures which may depend on implementing decrees to specify the modalities of implementation of the law). But a referral to the Constitutional Council can also occur before.

The opposition needs to bring together sixty deputies or senators to bring the text before the body. Such an examination could lead to a partial or total censorship of the text, if the Council considers that there are provisions contrary to the Constitution. But it would also be an opportunity to check whether the guarantees on drone surveillance put forward by the presidential majority are sufficient.

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