#CyberFLASH: For U.S. allies, paradigm shift in intelligence collection

dynamic_resizePARIS — Fearful of an expanding extremist threat, countries that for years have relied heavily on U.S. intelligence are quickly building up their own capabilities with new technology, new laws and — in at least one case — a searing debate on how much the American government should be allowed to spy on their own citizens.

Responding to a jihadi movement that is successfully recruiting people from around the world, France and Canada are both passing laws that would dramatically ramp up their surveillance apparatus. In France, lawmakers are on the verge of approving a bill that would let the government install “black boxes” to collect metadata from every major phone and Internet company.

Canada’s measures were rushed through after a two separate attacks in October 2014 on Canadian soldiers — including one that ended when the gunman stormed Parliament and was shot to death by guards and police. France’s law went into high gear after the January terror attacks on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket that left 20 dead, including the gunmen.

Analysts say it’s not so much a question of diminishing cooperation with the U.S. — the revelations of Edward Snowden have ultimately done little to harm relationships between allies — as a push to increase domestic capacities ill-equipped to face the rising threat of Islamic State and other jihadi groups.

“These are not people coming from the outside, these are not people who are taking plane trips, they are not people who attracted notice outside our countries. These are people who come from the heart of our society,” said Alain Chouet, a former French intelligence official who recently returned from an extended trip to Canada where he debated the measures in both countries. “International cooperation in this area isn’t hugely useful.”

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