These connected devices, sex toys included, which must replace beacons and spy microphones

Connected devices, including sex toys, should be used for investigative purposes for certain investigations by the judicial police. Tuesday evening, the rebellious deputy Ugo Bernalicis failed to pass his amendment. But he managed to create a buzz, as spotted by BFM TV, for example.

The elected official wanted to exclude sex toys from the scope of electronic devices that could be activated remotely. This new special investigation technique reserved for the most serious crimes and misdemeanors is one of the disputed provisions of the orientation and programming bill of the Ministry of Justice, currently studied by the National Assembly.

slippery slope

“You are on a slippery slope in terms of surveillance, was indignant Ugo Bernalicis. We are going too far, this measure is not proportionate, especially when you see the length of the measure. (…) I am not in favor of entering people’s lives like that.” An evocative vocabulary that aroused laughter on the benches of the deputies.

“It’s in rather bad taste, Parliament deserves better than your usual circus,” replied Eric Dupond-Moretti dryly. As recalled by the Minister of Justice, the interest in a judicial investigation of a remote activation of sex toys for audio or video recording purposes, as well as its geolocation, seems very uncertain.

wide perimeter

But is the rebellious MP so off the mark? This is debatable. Because the scope of this new remote activation appears extremely wide. “The connected technological devices targeted not being precisely defined, one can think of an extensive and abusive use of such a possibility”, he recalled in the explanatory memorandum to his amendment.

According to the government, justice needs alternatives to beacons and microphones installed in suspects’ homes, operations that are risky when there are now alternatives offered by technology. Phones, cars, watches, headphones or voice assistants: all connected electronic devices equipped with a microphone, a camera or a location mechanism could thus become investigation aids.

Dangerous gearing down

For the Observatory of digital freedoms, an organization which notably brings together La Quadrature du net or the Ligue des droits de l’homme, it is more than a simple adaptation of the means of investigation, a dangerous multiplication of “possibilities of police intrusion by transforming all our IT tools into potential spies”.

Misuse possible thanks to the exploitation of security vulnerabilities. A point on which the public authorities have been imprecise, explaining that it will be computer means covered by secrecy. Either a new missed opportunity, lamented the Observatory of digital freedoms, which stressed that these flaws should rather be the subject of public information to improve everyone’s computer security, rather than being used to track down suspects.

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