French authorities have been given new powers to carry out searches on confiscated electronics and block websites with near immediacy, in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris, .
The changes come as part and parcel of extending France’s state of emergency for three additional months.
According to a report on Ars Technica UK, the new laws will enable authorities to search data that is “accessible from the initial system or available for the initial system”.
This will effectively give police the right to search a French resident’s smartphone, tablet, notebook or any other electronic device for any data that shows it may have been used to access terror related content. Authorities can also search any content stored online using any usernames or passwords collected during the search.
France’s Minister of the Interior can sign off on blocking websites with immediate effect – in the past the action took around 24 hours. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says the legislators will also discuss making visiting a site linked to terrorism illegal, though for now only habitual visits will draw suspicion.
French digital rights website, La Quadrature du Net has pointed out that the vague language in some of the updated laws is cause for concern. For example, a section that could dissolve associations or groups that “take part in committing acts that seriously endanger the public order or whose activities facilitate or encourage committing such acts,” may prove harmful to those that lobby for things such as encryption technologies which protect innocent civilians on a day to day basis.