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France battles with civil liberties

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France battles with civil liberties


The French government has been forced to revise plans over a new security database after widespread opposition to the scheme.
More than a 130,000 people have signed an online petition against the controversial system known as Edvige. The proposed new database allows Police to collect information on anyone considered a threat to public order.

French Defence Minister, Michelle Alliot-Marie said:

‘‘The majority of people recognise there are guarantees but they fear that these will not be put in place. ‘‘So what we can do is into writing. ‘‘And also, what we can do is limit the amount of time that the data is held,’‘ she said.

Not enough for Unions and civil rights groups, who are demanding the whole system be thrown out. A day of protest is planned for October 16. Under the system officials could to track those as young as 13.

General Secretary of Judges and Lawyers Union, Hélène Franco said:

“The matter of tracking minors is without doubt the mark of a society which considers a section of its young people as a threat, she said.

President of Human Rights League, Jean Pierre Dubois said:

‘‘To be put on a database against ones knowledge, whether homosexual, HIV positive, or of whatever ethnic origin. ‘‘How can that help democracy’‘, he said.’‘

France’s highest administrative court is examining the EDVIGE system and will decide in December. One thing is clear – no other EU country has gone so far to monitor its citizens. But, if given the go ahead, France will not be the first European country to create Fingerprint and DNA databases. The UK already holds genetic data on 5 percent of its population. The biggest of its kind in the world. Individuals arrested automatically go on it, regardless of whether they are guilty or not. And, other European states also have powers to monitor individuals – however this is often limited to the countries anti-terror laws.

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