- France to monitor social media to catch tax evaders.
- The new project is for 3 years of information gathering.
- France's CNIL watchdog is concerned over the loss of privacy.
The French government announced additional measures to curb tax evaders. France’s constitutional council ruled the government has a right to expand its powers to monitor the social media of its citizens in order to collect information pertaining to tax evasion. The Constitutional Council is the highest constitutional authority in France. It was established by the Constitution of the Fifth Republic in 1958 to ensure that constitutional principles and rules are upheld. It is housed in the Palais-Royal, Paris.
Border agents will be allowed to scan and monitor social media profiles for messages and posted images. Hence, social media will be yet another tool for the government to control its citizens. The revenue agency will have more powers against their citizens. The new rules are part of the tax changes passed last week.
France will be the second nation besides the UK to implement draconian measures and take away its citizens privacy in Western Europe. It also shows that French President Macron’s government is experiencing financial difficulties and the economy is not doing so well. That is why France has been very instrumental in hosting the Normandy Format talks that failed again to bring peace in Ukraine.
The only relief French citizens have is that their password protected content will be off limits. Nevertheless, it is a grey area, and it is possible these days to obtain such information. The new information gathering is a three year experiment of online monitoring being implemented by the French government.
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There are interesting questions that arise, such as what would be the criteria to red flag individuals suspected of tax evasion based on their social media profiles? It is a known fact these days that a lot of images shared on Instagram and Facebook are photoshopped. Also, some images are taken at the scenic locations with houses and cars that do not belong to the individual, but used on social media to increase their status. Would all these people be reprimanded, targeted or monitored? This could create a potential issue of undue duress for them and wasted government resources investigating and tracking individuals.
France’s Commission Nationale de l’informatique et Des Libertés is concerned about personal liberties infringement. CNIL is an independent French administrative, regulatory body whose mission is to ensure that data privacy law is applied to the collection, storage, and use of personal data. It was established in 1978.
Social media monitoring, unless it is a used to prevent terrorists and increase public safety, is starting evolve into a similar version of Russia’s KGB system that was implemented during the Soviet Era.
It is clear that in the current digital age, online privacy is becoming obsolete.