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French press review 5 August 2013

Today's French newspapers look at an embarassing decision to release convicted criminals because of overcrowding; tracking by Big Brother; and swimming pool hygine. 

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An article from Friday’s issue of the Le Figaro caused somewhat of an embarrassment in the Interior and Justice Ministries over the weekend, reports the French right-wing daily.

On Friday, Le Figaro revealed an alarming report written by a police officer of the city of Dreux, in northern France.

The officer had protested against a judge’s decision to release three convicted criminals because there was no room for them in the local jail.

Learning about the story in the newspaper, interior minister Manuel Valls publicly expressed his surprise at the judge’s decision, and said he was terribly concerned by the consequences of such a decision.

The embarrassment was shared by the Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira, who quickly issued a press release stating she would look into the unusual decision.

The newspaper reports that members of the opposition, including UMP member of Parliament ­Christian Estrosi, expressed indignation and disgust at the decision.

Estrosi announced he had personally asked for an explanation from the Minister of Justice regarding what he and his party refer to as “institutionally established impunity” for criminals.

The left-wing Libération leads with a report on the multiplication of ways to keep track of people and their activities.

A person’s every move and, sometimes, even thoughts, can be tracked using smartphones, tablets, social networking, public transport passes and credit cards. The information gathered can even be used against them, the paper says.

The paper goes through the day of a modern, connected citizen of the 21st century.

Hour by hour, Libération shows how we can be tracked and spied upon, even if we’re just randomly browsing on Amazon for a book, or even using our member’s card for a discount at our local supermarket.

Every piece of data, every use of our different cards or phones is recorded: a phenomenon everyone is aware of, says the paper, and oddly enough, seems to be ok with.

You can refuse to have a mobile phone or to be on Facebook, says one of the experts interviewed by the paper, but that’s just another way of giving up and admitting defeat.

As long as users don’t protest against the increasing intrusion into their lives, companies will continue to use all the information they can find on consumers online, the paper explains. It is a mildly alarming Big-Brother-like dossier that does not really bring anything new to the table, but providing an interesting point of view, nonetheless.

And while on the subject of alarming dossiers, the front page of Aujourd’hui en France takes a look at the health and hygiene of local municipal pools.

With a report entitled “swimming in troubled waters”, the paper takes a look at the busiest sporting venues this summer and how one person’s hygiene – or lack thereof – can affect everyone swimming around them.

The French reputation for bad hygiene might be more of a reality than we care to admit, as many swimmers overlook the mandatory shower before taking a dive, reports the daily, and use the pool as their personal bath tub.

You may think you’re not concerned and that your pool is as clean as it get, but contrary to popular belief, says the paper, the strong smell of chlorine in your local pool doesn’t necessarily mean it’s clean. In fact, it could be quite the opposite, as the smell of chlorine actually comes from the reaction of the product with bacteria. Now you know.

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