France has rolled out a new surveillance law that is set to be the most sweeping and controversial of its kind in Europe.
Under the law, internet service providers (ISPs) and web-hosting providers will be required to store all the personal data of all subscribers to their sites in a database, which will be shared with national security authorities.
The legislation, which came into force on Thursday, is part of a broader crackdown on suspected terrorists and terrorists’ supporters, and comes as France is embroiled in a bitter political row over the government’s handling of the refugee crisis.
Under the new law, ISPs will be subject to fines of up to $2,000 per day for each day they fail to keep the personal information for a period of six months, or for failing to provide it within one year.
These fines can then be appealed by a court.
The fines can be doubled if a second conviction occurs.
“The law will be a first step in a long and very difficult legal battle,” said Philippe Liguère, the leader of France’s left-wing Front National, which has criticized the government for its handling of asylum-seekers.
“This law is not a legal instrument to stop terrorist attacks but to stop those who try to commit them from coming to France.”
In a statement, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, hailed the new measures as a “historic day” and called on the European Union to adopt the law.
“This is a victory for freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association, it is a great step forward,” he said.
“For too long France has failed to protect its citizens and the freedoms they enjoy,” he added.
“I congratulate the French people for this historic day.”
“The new measures will not stop all terror attacks, but will provide a legal framework for combating them,” said Nicolas Huppert, an attorney at the Paris office of the human rights organization Reporters Without Borders.
The group has also called on Europe to impose tougher measures against suspected terrorists.
The measures come as the French government is under pressure from right-wing politicians to tighten up security measures, especially after a string of attacks in the capital, Paris.
In February, three gunmen shot dead two police officers in the northern French city of Montrouge, and a day later a suicide bomber killed a police officer in a southern suburb of Paris.
In November, a bomb exploded in a metro station in the French city’s southern suburbs, killing at least four people.
In September, a man who police said was a suspected terrorist shot dead a policeman in the southern city of Nice, and in July, a Tunisian-born man killed at least 10 people at a music festival in a town near Paris.
On Thursday, France’s interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, told parliament that a total of 3,000 suspects had been arrested across France, and he said that the country was on track to arrest 1,000.
The new surveillance legislation comes as French intelligence agencies are being accused of a series of security lapses, including a failed attempt to intercept the communications of suspected terrorists in 2015.