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French MPs reject electronic data handover in anti-terror bill debate

Police at Paris's Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport with the photos of Paris attackers Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini AFP

French MPs threw out a proposal to force manufacturers of mobile phones, tablets and computers to hand over data to the security services on Thursday. The amendments, inspired by Apple's refusal to give data to the US's FBI, were tabled in a debate on an anti-terorism bill that would mean an extension of the time allowed for detention without charges and other controversial measures.

Two almost identical amendments, one from MPs from the ruling Socialist Party, the other from right-wing Republicans, were voted down by a majority of just one, 21-11 with some Socialist MPs joining the hard left in opposing it.

Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas and the committee that examined the law opposed the proposals, although they appear to have left their options open as to possible changes in the Senate.

Debate on the proposed law on organised crime and terrorism, introduced in the aftermath of last November's Paris attacks, was to continue Friday and to go to the upper house on 29 March.

On Thursday evening a proposal to allow detention without charge after a check on identity papers to last as long as four hours was passed, as was an easing of control of police carrying firearms and tighter measures, including the possibility of a month's house arrest, against people who have returned from fighting with armed groups abroad when there is insufficient evidence to justify charges.