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French MPs back surveillance plan

BBC | November 24 2005

France's lawmakers have voted to accept anti-terror measures which would boost video surveillance in public places.

The bill will allow cameras to be used on public transport and in places of worship, shops and other public areas.

The bill has been criticised by civil rights groups, but Mr Sarkozy says it strikes the right balance between security and personal freedoms.

The house will take a final vote on the whole bill on Tuesday. The upper house will discuss it in January.

Mr Sarkozy told parliament the country should brace itself for a terror attack.

"We are not in the least protected from this war because its instigators are unpredictable," the interior minister said.

"The possibility of violent acts being committed on our soil is a real one."

British model

Mr Sarkozy started drawing up the new laws in the wake of the London bombings and was reportedly inspired by Britain's subsequent inquiry, in which CCTV footage played a major role in tracking down the perpetrators.

The new plans would also allow private companies to install cameras outside their premises, granting the police access to all the footage.

At present, there are only about 60,000 CCTVs in France, compared with between 4m and 7m in the UK.

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