Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk warned the public on Friday that one of the most widely-used pieces of modern technology in the United States is dangerous.
“Phones are not safe,” Musk tweeted, responding to a report that French police will now have the authority to remotely access citizens’ cameras, microphones and location information on phones and other popular devices.
According to Gizmodo, authorities can collect video and audio recordings by remotely activating cameras and microphones. While officials say the new legislation will only be used on criminal suspects, many believe the unrestricted access will be used for nefarious purposes.
“At a time when police violence is only increasing, when political movements are being muzzled by surveillance and massive searches, parliamentarians are about to authorize the transformation of all connected objects into police snitches,” French advocacy group La Quadrature du Net warned in a translated statement last month.
“We repeat: if this text were adopted, it would radically change the paradigm of police espionage, by transforming all our computer tools into a gateway to monitoring us,” the group continued. “In view of the growing place of digital tools in our lives, accepting the very principle that they are transformed into police auxiliaries without our being aware of it poses a serious problem in our societies.”
France isn’t the only nation ramping up domestic surveillance. Earlier this year, documents showed the U.S. Army Protective Services Battalion utilizes technology to monitor social media, protecting top Pentagon officials from online “threats” and “negative sentiment.”
The U.S. Army Protective Services Battalion, a Pentagon division similar to the Secret Service, is responsible for the protection of top U.S. military leaders. The Intercept recently reported that a procurement document from last September expanded the U.S. Army Protective Services Battalion’s duty to include the identification of “negative sentiment” and the monitoring of “direct, indirect, and veiled” threats to U.S. military officials on social media.
“There may be legally valid reasons to intrude on someone’s privacy by searching for, collecting, and analyzing publicly available information, particularly when it pertains to serious crimes and terrorist threats,” Privacy International Program Director Ilia Siatitsa told The Intercept. “However, expressing ‘positive or negative sentiment towards a senior high-risk individual’ cannot be deemed sufficient grounds for government agencies to conduct surveillance operations, even going as far as ‘pinpointing exact locations’ of individuals.”