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France is now collecting and storing the data of 60 million citizens

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

04 January 2017

In all the furore of 2016, and the shocking political movements of the latter half of the year, you might just have missed a particularly Orwellian move from the French government.

In November last year, on a quiet Sunday when no one was watching, France’s Ministry of the Interior published decree No. 2016-1460, creating “Titres électroniques securisés” (TES), or “Secure Electronic Documents” database.

By 2018, all personal data from French passports and ID cards is to be merged into TES, creating one monstrously far-reaching database containing information on all 60 million French citizens.

Despite widespread concern in the media, the decree was passed without parliamentary consultation or public debate. TES will mark the first time France has collected data on its citizens on such a wide scale since the Nazi occupation.

Depending on the source of the information, it will be stored for between 15 and 20 years.

While the French government considers the TES necessary to combat identity theft, many campaigners have argued that it is a huge invasion of privacy and actually endangers the information of citizens, especially in the event of a hack.

Could this inspire other governments in Europe to do the same? Only time will tell.

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