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(Mar 22, 2011) A new Law on Guidelines and Programming for the Performance of Internal Security was published in France's official gazette on March 15, 2011. (Loi no. 2011-267 du 14 mars 2011 d'orientation et de programmation pour la performance de la sécurité intérieure [hereinafter Internal Security Law], LEGIFRANCE online database.)

The Law is known as "Loppsi 2," in reference to a law with a similar name and objective that was passed in 2002. The constitutionality of the 2011 Law was reviewed prior to its promulgation by the Constitutional Council, which struck down 13 of its articles, none of them essential. (Conseil Constitutionnel, Décision no. 2011-625 DC du 10 mars 2011.)

The Law covers many areas, including cybercrime, police databases, video protection, and crime prevention. Below are some of its highlights.

Fight Against Cyber Criminality

The Law criminalizes online identity theft, which is punishable by one year of imprisonment and a €15,000 (about US$21,280) fine. (Internal Security Law, art. 2.)

Internet service providers are to block access to any Internet address if authorities consider that this is required to prevent the distribution of pornographic images of minors. The Ministry of Interior will notify the ISP as to which sites to block. The list from the Ministry of Interior will remain confidential. (Id. art. 4.)

The scope of article 227-24 of the Penal Code, which makes it a criminal offense to manufacture and distribute any message that is violent or pornographic when these messages may be seen by a minor, is extended to include messages whose nature may "incite minors to pursue games that put them in physical danger." This offense is punishable by three years' imprisonment and a €75,000 fine. (Id. art. 5.)

Use of New Technologies

Identification of a person by his/her DNA

The identification of a deceased person by his/her DNA is now authorized. (Id. art. 6.) The DNA of the deceased and those of his/her ascendants, descendants, or collateral relatives needed for the person's identification may be entered in the national DNA database. The data will be erased as soon as the identification is completed. The act of identifying a person by way of his/her DNA for medical or scientific reasons without his/her consent as required under article 16-11 of the Civil Code is punishable by one year of imprisonment and a €15,000 fine. (Id. art. 8.)

Police databases

Police databases will be better monitored and new guarantees are provided for the individuals subject to registration in those databases. (Id. arts. 11, 14.) The Law also authorizes the creation of software permitting better exploitation and integration of the various police files. (Id. art. 14.)

Video protection

The term video surveillance is to be replaced by video protection. This type of protection will be enhanced throughout the national territory. A National Video Protection Commission will prepare an annual report for Parliament evaluating the efficiency of video protection and proposing recommendations. (Id. arts. 18, 19.)

Protection of the State's Fundamental Interests

The Law establishes a legal protection regime for secret service agents and their sources and collaborators. A new article that criminalizes revealing the real or assumed identity of an agent is inserted in the Penal Code. The offense is punishable by a five year term of imprisonment and a €75,000 fine. (Id. art. 27.)

Reinforcing the Fight Against Criminality

Organized crime

Police investigators are allowed to observe and record in real time, from a distance, the data that appears on a computer screen, even when the data is not stored. The state is allowed to install software that can observe, collect, record, save, and transmit keystrokes from the computers on which it is installed on potential criminals' computers. This measure may only be adopted after being authorized by an investigating judge and after consultation with the Public Prosecutor and may only be ordered for the purpose of fighting organized crime. The duration of such a measure is four months. The investigating judge may renew it once for an additional four months. (Id. art.36.)

Murder of policemen

A person who murders a policeman, judge, or penitentiary guard will be eligible for parole only after 30 years of incarceration, as opposed to 22, the standard for other types of homicide. (Id. art. 37.)

Crime Prevention

Minors

Prefects (state representatives in a département) may order curfews for minors under the age of 13 between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. if "the presence of minors on public streets during the night would expose them to an obvious risk to their health, security, education, or morality." (Id. art. 43.)

Violence committed against vulnerable individuals

Penalties incurred for acts of theft or housebreaking targeting individuals vulnerable due to their age, disability, physical or mental deficiency, or pregnancy, where such vulnerability is apparent to the perpetrator of the offense, are substantially increased. (Id. art. 47.)

Author: Nicole Atwill More by this author
Topic: Crime and law enforcement More on this topic
Jurisdiction: France More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 03/22/2011