France is reportedly planning to allow the use of algorithms by security agencies to detect online extremism activity in view of the rising number of terror attacks.
According to The Guardian, the decision comes after a spike in crimes in the European nation. French President Emmanuel Macron, who came under criticism following a spate of terror attacks, has promised the “right to a peaceful life” to the people of his country.
The nature of crimes committed in France has changed recently. The latest attackers included a Tunisian man who stabbed a female police officer to death with a knife in Rambouillet, a small town west of Paris last week.
According to security analysts, these attackers are completely different from the previous ones who fought in Syria and Iraq and committed the major terrorist gun and bomb attacks in 2015.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the new attackers were mostly “isolated individuals, increasingly younger, unknown to intelligence services, and often without any links to established Islamist groups”.
He also explained how their mode of communication has shifted from “text messages and mobile phones” to “online or social media direct messaging”. It is said such attackers pose a bigger threat to France as they radicalize quickly.
Under its 2017 counterterrorism law, French security agencies have been using algorithms to monitor messaging apps. It also reinforced police surveillance measures. However, the country is now planning to amend this law to make the use of algorithms for online tracking a permanent feature. The proposed amendment would expand its purview to websites and web searches.
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According to the prosecutor, the Tunisian attacker was dealing with psychiatric difficulties and before committing the crime, he watched videos online that glorified Jihadist activities.
The new law will expand the already existing powers of the security agencies to keep an eye on the online activities of high-risk individuals and also limit their movement for two years rather than one after release from jail.
Although Darmanin insisted that the government wanted to clamp down on illegal immigration at Europe’s border, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on April 28 that “immigration policies and terrorism policies must be kept separate.”