Fleur Pellerin is French Minister for SMBs, innovation and the digital economy. This past Saturday, she was invited to a public radio show hosted by France Culture and national newspapers Le Monde. During the show, she declared that she was opposed to surveillance technology exports to oppressive regimes.
This announcement is causing quite a stir in the French political scene since France is among the top sellers of mass surveillance technologies worldwide. France has been providing technologies relying on deep packet inspection to regimes such as Syria, Barheim, Morocco, Gabon, Cambodgia, Libya and Tunisia. The French government is a stake-holder in Alcatel (5%), Thales (27%), Bull (10%), Orange (26%), all of which have been involved in selling mass surveillance technologies to the countries mentioned above.
In the United States, the sale of massive surveillance technologies has been condemned by president Obama, and heavy sanctions are imposed to those who help carry out human rights abuses. However, unlike France, US companies involved in such sales are fully private, which means that the US government does not directly benefit from the commercialization of massive surveillance technologies… Unlike France. Now French politics are holding their breath while waiting for Arnaud Montebourg, Hollande’s State Secretary to the Industry, to confirm that France will indeed condemn the sale of massive surveillance technologies.