France: Massive Mobilization Against EDVIGE, the New French Database (Sexual Orientation, HIV Seropositivity…)
Remember the movie ‘Das Leben der Anderen’ (The Lives of Others), where a Stasi agent was monitoring a playwriter’s life? This doesn’t translate anymore in French into ‘La vie des autres’, but rather into EDVIGE, the name of a newly created database to be used by French intelligence services and the administrative police.
EDVIGE will file “individuals, groups, organisations and moral persons which, due to their individual or collective activity, are likely to attempt to public order”. Not only these persons will be filed (without any offence committed), but also “those who undertake or have undertaken direct and non fortuitous relations with them.” Filing starts at age 13.
This, clearly, means filing everyone, in view of “informing the government and the representatives of the State” in any and all French town and region. In other words, EDVIGE, which has been created by a decree issued on 27 June 2008 in the framework of the merging of two French intelligence services (RG and DST), is the perfect instrument of a political police.
EDVIGE will contains data on “civil status and occupation; physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses; physical characteristics, photographs and behaviour; identity papers; car plate numbers; fiscal and patrimonial information; moves and legal history.”
As highlighted by lesbians and gays associations, this will include data on sexual orientation and health, in particular HIV seropositivity. This has been confirmed by a representative of the Interior ministry, who declared that “the mention of these data will only be authorised for incidental need in relation with an activity. In the intelligence field, this mainly means activism.” Moreover, French EDRI member IRIS notes that the inclusion of “identity papers” in these data is particularly significant in the context of the newly created French biometric passport including 8 fingerprints and of the draft law in preparation on biometric ID cards.
A large mobilization against EDVIGE immediately started, with a petition calling for the withdrawal of this file. This petition is hosted and maintained by RAS (‘Réseau associatif et syndical’), an NGO acting as an ISP for its members, almost 200 activist NGOs and trade unions, among them EDRI member IRIS. The petition has already gathered since 10 July 2008 more than 16.000 individual signatures, and more than 170 signatures from associations, trade unions and political parties from the opposition. Signatories will organize into a global coordination against the EDVIGE file, and are preparing various actions starting from next September. In the mean time, some of these groups will file a complaint against the French government, requesting the annulment of the EDVIGE decree.