The French parliament has voted in favor of punishing companies that refuse to decrypt data for government investigators – by threatening businesses with big fines and possible jail terms for staff.
This comes amid the FBI's high-profile battle with Apple in the US to unlock a dead killer's encrypted iPhone.
French deputies voted to add an amendment to a penal reform bill that would fine companies €350,000 (US$385,350) for a refusal to decrypt and give up to five years in jail for senior executives. Telecommunications company executives would face smaller fines and up to two years in jail for not cooperating with the authorities.
The new penalties were the idea of right wing opposition deputies, AFP (Agence France Presse) reports, and are opposed by the French government, which has consistently opposed moves to reduce IT security after the terrorist attack in Paris last November.
The vote for the amendment doesn't mean the measure will become law, however. The full bill will be voted on by the National Assembly on March 8 and will then move to the upper house for a separate vote. The President will also have to sign it before it takes effect.
In the meantime, expect technology firms to begin a massive lobbying effort to get the amendment removed. Nothing concentrates the mind so much as the thought of a C-level executive spending time in the slammer.
What if the tech cant decrypt the data and the Govt wont believe him/her?