Friday, April 24, 2015, I was invited, with certain number of opponents to the future law on Intelligence in France, to meet parliamentarian Christophe Borgel (Deputy of the 9th district of Toulouse – PS) to discuss this topic.
We were about fifteen people to have made the trip (mostly computer scientists, perhaps we’re the only ones to be interested in the project, or at least the only ones worried about it).
The discussion was passionate, there have been some increases in voice, but we could expose our major concerns:
- Ethically, potentially putting the entire population to “listen” seems disproportionate in view of the objectives of the law
- The introduction of black boxes in the French Internet network has two major problems:
- This will weaken the network by adding a layer that can be potentially hacked.
- It will be very difficult technically to remove them once installed
- The algorithms of these boxes have various disadvantages:
- They will store a navigation history for each user, if it must actually detect “suspicious behavior” through the study of traffic patterns
- They could easily be extended to other uses that the search for potential terrorists
- A citizen will struggle to grasp the CNCTR for wrongful listening because he must prove that he is monitored (which is difficult to detect).
- Finally, France risks losing the confidence of the various digital businesses that prefer to turn to countries less intrusive into the privacy of their customers
The deputy has listened to us, noted some comments it is supposed to go back to the assembly, defended his point of view and the government…
I could ask some questions (such as the difficulty to grasp the CNCTR for a citizen, or technical issues surrounding the algorithms), I do not know if this will make a difference, but we must recognize that he left us the speech.
To be continued, although I haven’t much hope.