French Constitutional Council Strikes Down “Blank Check” Provision in the 2015 Intelligence Act

Can intelligence agencies and their practice of secret state surveillance be reconciled with the rule of law? Is the unprecedented global debate on surveillance opened by the Snowden disclosures in 2013 bringing intelligence work closer to democratic standards? Last week, the French Constitutional Council indirectly dealt with these pressing questions by striking down a blank-check provision in the 2015 Intelligence Act, excluding “measures taken by public authorities to ensure, for the sole purpose of defending national interests, the surveillance and the control of Hertzian transmissions” from safeguards like the authorisation of the Prime Minister and the ex-ante opinion of an oversight commission.

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