Thursday, January 08, 2015

New Law Aids Charlie Hebdo Hunt

French Authorities Have a Powerful New Surveillance Law in Their Arsenal

By Sam Schechner and Lisa Fleisher, WSJ
Jan. 8, 2015 9:18 a.m. ET

PARIS—As the manhunt continues for two brothers suspected in an attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, French authorities have a powerful weapon in their arsenal: a broad new surveillance law.

The controversial law, passed in late 2013, but elaborated in a decree just after Christmas, gives French investigators more latitude to collect data in “real time” about individuals’ phone and Internet traffic, without judicial review.

With approval from a government appointee, French investigators can demand that telecommunications and Internet firms turn over the location of individuals’ mobile phones and Internet addresses. They can request usernames and their bank details; information about what their targets are doing online, and who they are communicating with.

“We’re using everything we can,” said one French official about the ongoing manhunt.

Technology and telecommunications experts say the new rules bolster one of the most important tools that law enforcement authorities have in a crisis situation—the ability to put together digital breadcrumbs from various sources, to help them zero in on a target.

(More here.)

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