France\u0026#039;s highest constitutional authority on Thursday approved a sweeping, controversial new surveillance law that greatly expands the government\u0026#039;s spying powers, despite widespread human rights concerns.Making only minor changes to the legislation, which was approved by Parliament in May, the Constitutional Council ruled on Thursday that the bill generally aligns with the French constitution—even as privacy and civil liberties groups continue to call attention to its egregious rights violations.\u0022By validating almost all surveillance measures provided in the Surveillance Law adopted on 25 June, the French Constitutional Council legalizes mass surveillance and endorses a historical decline in fundamental rights,\u0022 said La Quadrature du Net, a Paris-based digital rights and civil liberties organization. \u0022Only international surveillance has been deemed to be non compliant to the Constitution.\u0022 \u0022This law is in flagrant violation of the international human rights to privacy and free speech.\u0022—Geneviève Garrigos, Amnesty International France The law gives French intelligence agencies power to tap phones and hack into computers; sweep up and analyze metadata of millions of civilians; and plant secret microphones, cameras, and \u0026#039;keystroke loggers\u0026#039; in the homes of \u0022suspected terrorists\u0022—all without approval from a judge.It also gives the government the power to authorize surveillance for reasons as vague as \u0022major foreign policy interests\u0022 and preventing \u0022organized delinquency.\u0022The government justified the bill by invoking recent attacks in Paris, which saw 17 people killed by gunmen in January at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher deli. President Francois Hollande\u0026#039;s move to have the law approved by the Constitutional Council is \u0022unusual,\u0022 the Guardian writes. But while it is rare, Hollande\u0026#039;s motives are clear—the decision by the Council ensures that the law will not be challenged as illegal in the future.By approving the bill, the Council \u0022has disavowed its role as protector of fundamental rights and liberties,\u0022 La Quadrature continued. \u0022By refusing to implement effective control over the intelligence services, it is rubber-stamping a historic step back for privacy and freedom of communication, thus undermining the very foundations of democracy. This evening the reason of state was brutally imposed over the rule of law.\u0022One of the most controversial provisions in the bill requires internet service providers and telecommunications companies to install equipment, referred to in previous debates as \u0022algorithmic black boxes,\u0022 that sift through internet traffic and metadata for so-called \u0022terrorist\u0022 activity and alert authorities when flagged. Opponents have warned that portion of the bill will \u0022create permanent surveillance,\u0022 as Communist Senator Cécile Cukierman said during a June debate—a charge which officials deny. \u0022This evening the reason of state was brutally imposed over the rule of law.\u0022—La Quadrature du NetThe law comes into effect just two days after the United Nations Committee for Human Rights released a report warning that the bill \u0022grants overly broad powers for very intrusive surveillance on the basis of vast and badly defined objectives\u0022 and calling on France to \u0022guarantee that any interference in private life must conform to principles of legality, proportionality and necessity.\u0022Amnesty International France chief Geneviève Garrigos said on Friday, \u0022This law is in flagrant violation of the international human rights to privacy and free speech. Someone investigating the actions of the French government or French companies or even organizing a protest, could be subjected to extremely intrusive forms of surveillance. Mass surveillance tools, including black boxes, would put the internet communications of the entire population and beyond within reach of the French authorities.\u0022And Privacy International, which submitted recommendations this month to the UNHCR on the right to privacy in France, said the bill legalized hacking. \u0022Its use by any state authorities, particularly intelligence agencies, must be highly regulated to protect against abuses of power. Yet the bill makes no provision for judicial authorisation or oversight of hacking powers,\u0022 the organization wrote.