French lawmakers voted in favour Tuesday of a new law granting the state sweeping surveillance powers, despite criticism from civil society groups that have dubbed the bill the “French Patriot Act”.

The bill passed the National Assembly with 438 votes in favour and just 86 against after it gained the backing of the two main parties – the ruling Socialists and the centre-right UMP. The bill will now go up before the French parliament’s upper house, the Senate, in June.

The latest intelligence bill is one of several government reforms in the wake of the January 7-9 Paris attacks that left 17 dead. France remains on high alert and has received repeated threats from jihadist groups, including the Islamic State (IS) group in the Syria-Iraq region.

Rights groups, however, have slammed the new proposals, calling the raft of measures a “French Big Brother”.


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