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French Lawmakers Approve Bill That Could Force Apple To Unlock Data

March 8, 2016, 10:02 PM UTC
Protesters demonstrate outside the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headquarters building in Washington, DC, February 23, 2016, objecting to the US government attempt to put a backdoor into the Apple I-Phone. Apple is battling the US government over unlocking devices in at least 10 cases in addition to its high-profile dispute involving the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino attackers, court documents show. / AFP / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Paul J. Richards—AFP via Getty Images

French lawmakers have approved a proposal that would impose a series of penalties, including fines and jail time, for tech companies that refuse to help authorities to access encrypted data during investigations.

The France’s lower house of Parliament passed the amendment 474 votes to 32, and will be included in a broader counter-terrorism bill that overhauls legal procedures and targets terrorists and organized crime in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks last November, reported Bloomberg.

Once it is cleared, the bill is expected to be debated by the Senate later this month, according to the Associated Press.

Under the amendment, companies who refuse to cooperate could be fined up to 350,000 euros (around $386,000), and its executives could receive a maximum five-year prison sentence for not providing access to data during terrorism-related investigations.

During debates, lawmakers directly referenced the current fight between Apple (AAPL) and the FBI, where the company has refused to create special software to allow investigators access into a locked iPhone that was held in possession by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

The amendment was proposed by Philippe Goujon, a member of the opposition party The Republicans, and has the support of the party’s right-wing politicians, reported Bloomberg. The measures, however, were reportedly opposed by the socialist party of French President François Hollande, reported The Verge.