Everyone has their own idea of a revolution. Responding to the hopes of the National Commission for the Control of Intelligence Techniques (CNCTR) to improve the democratic control of the French secret services, the head of state caused some stir among French spies. CNCTR, the only independent form of state surveillance, is nevertheless a simple technical measure: the centralization and dematerialization of computer data collection. France still resists any outside opinion, even authorized, about its secret operations. But behind the trivial matter of logistics lies a big problem – the front line where freedoms and rights are defended.
According to the National Coordination of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism (CNRLT), headed by the President's closest adviser, Prefect Pascal Mailhose, the decision was made to install a remote control on all the data capture computers made by the French secret. services. The work is not small. Planned to last four years, it will lead to the construction of data centers and secure chains, and will end the dispersion of approximately forty of these data storage centers in the territory.
Furthermore, while this information will continue to be collected by the technical directorates of the main services – the Directorate General for External Security (DGSE) and its internal security counterpart, the DGSI – it will now be stored and managed under a single inter-ministerial control. group (GIC) which centralizes all administrative interception for the police and intelligence services. All computer data will be accessible remotely on the GIC platform to both intelligence agencies authorized to do so and the CNCTR.
As soon as the French secret service uses a technique to collect information – eavesdropping, geographic location, computer data, image and sound capture, etc. –, he must request the advisory opinion of the CNCTR established in 2015 in accordance with the intelligence law. The Commission has a secure means on its premises to discuss the ongoing classic wiretapping cases live, centralized and managed by the GIC. But it must go to the headquarters of France's main intelligence services, the DGSE and DGSI, as well as to the GIC centers located throughout the territory to control a posteriori the use of the most sensitive intelligence tools.
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