Melon Farmers Original Version

Internet Censorship in France

Web blocking in the name of child protection


Running riot over people's freedom...

French government proposes extreme internet censorship law to force browsers to block all websites on a French government controlled list

Link Here 1st July 2023
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
Mozilla, the foundation that produces the Firefox browser explains:

In a well-intentioned yet dangerous move to fight online fraud, France is on the verge of forcing browsers to create a dystopian technical capability. Article 6 (para II and III) of the SREN Bill would force browser providers to create the means to mandatorily block websites present on a government provided list. Such a move will overturn decades of established content moderation norms and provide a playbook for authoritarian governments that will easily negate the existence of censorship circumvention tools.

While motivated by a legitimate concern, this move to block websites directly within the browser would be disastrous for the open internet and disproportionate to the goals of the legal proposal -- fighting fraud. It will also set a worrying precedent and create technical capabilities that other regimes will leverage for far more nefarious purposes. Leveraging existing malware and phishing protection offerings rather than replacing them with government provided, device level block-lists is a far better route to achieve the goals of the legislation.

The rest of the post will provide a brief overview of the current state of phishing protection systems in browsers, the distinction between industry practices and what the draft law proposes, and proposes alternatives to achieve the goals of the legislation in a less extreme manner.

It might seem that current malware and phishing protection industry practices are not so different from the French proposal. This is far from the truth, where the key differentiating factor is that they do not block websites but merely warn users about the risks and allow them to access the websites if they choose to accept it. No such language is present in the current proposal, which is focused on blocking. Neither are there any references to privacy preserving implementations or mechanisms to prevent this feature from being utilized for other purposes. In fact, a government being able to mandate that a certain website not open at all on a browser/system is uncharted territory and even the most repressive regimes in the world prefer to block websites further up the network (ISPs, etc.) so far.

Forcing browsers to create capabilities that enable website blocking at the browser level is a slippery slope. While it might be leveraged only for malware and phishing in France today, it will set a precedent and create the technical capability within browsers for whatever a government might want to restrict or criminalize in a given jurisdiction forever. A world in which browsers can be forced to incorporate a list of banned websites at the software-level that simply do not open, either in a region or globally, is a worrying prospect that raises serious concerns around freedom of expression. If it successfully passes into law, the precedent this would set would make it much harder for browsers to reject such requests from other governments.

We remain engaged in conversations with relevant stakeholders and hope that the final law leads to a more palatable outcome for the open internet.



Identity politics...

Macron continues to call for ID verification before people are allowed to use social media

Link Here 20th April 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
Two weeks prior to the French presidential election, President Emanuel Macron reopened the debate on ending online anonymity. The president is open to the idea of dismantling foreign platforms if they do not require users to verify their identity before they can post. Macron told Le Point last week:

In a democratic society, there should be no anonymity. You can't walk around in the street wearing a hood. On the Internet, people allow themselves, because they are hooded behind a pseudonym, to say the worst abjections.

Macron began his campaign against online anonymity in January 2019, saying it was time to move towards a gradual lifting of all forms of anonymity.

In the latest interview, Macron attacked US Big Tech platforms, claiming:

They come to use our ancient or post-revolutionary freedoms to divert from their essence.

We need to create a public order, like in the street. This is not the state of nature. On social media networks, you can kill reputations, spread false news, drive people to suicide.

Macron hopes that the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act will be a solution to the problem of online anonymity and Big Tech antitrust practices.



Macron conspires to turn France into an authoritarian state...

As he sets up a commission targeting conspiracy theorists

Link Here30th September 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
French president Emmanuel Macron has been slammed after he set up a commission to fight conspiracy theories which critics have labelled the thought police. He said he believes conspiracy theories are a poison to French society. Members will include 15 academics, as well as journalists, teachers and lawyers.

Macron has asked them to produce a report on topics including how to prevent internet algorithms enslaving society, how advertisers exploit fake news and how to prevent foreign rival powers from spreading information.

Macron said in a TV interview that conspiracy theories are a key problem for France which is battling the perspective that all views are equal, that those of someone who is not a specialist but who has an opinion on the coronavirus are just as valid as those of a scientist.

But Francois-Bernard Huyghe, a political scientist at the Institute for International and Strategic Affairs in Paris, has slammed Mr Macron's new commission. He said:

I don't think that multiplying laws, censoring social media accounts or treating people as cretins is the solution. It provokes the opposite effect to the one desired and the feeling that something is being hidden.



Protecting cartoon children...

France blocks access to hentai website

Link Here 22nd November 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
The French government has blocked access to the website of the popular hentai outlet Nhentai, with a new government redirect page warning that the site contain images of child porn.

News of this ban was first reported on November 19th , when multiple French citizens took to social media to report that their attempts to access the page were being denied.

According to the generic block page, users were being redirected to this page by the Ministry of the Interior because you have attempted to connect to a site containing image of child pornography, an act which was being done in order to protect the dignity of the [cartoon] victims of abuse seen in the images and protect the internet users and especially the very young, who did not want to find these images.

The French government also noted that access to the website was banned so that the person who is trying to view this images can be made aware of the gravity of his attraction, in order to fight against the sites that produce these images.



A good constitution...

French constitutional council strikes down recent internet censorship law passed by parliament

Link Here 19th June 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
French internet censorship law suuposedly targeted at hate speech on online platforms has been widely deemed as unconstitutional by France's Constitutional Council, the top authority in charge of ruling whether a new law complies with the constitution. It won't come into effect as expected in the coming weeks.

The original law said that online platforms should remove within 24 hours illicit content that has been flagged. Otherwise, companies will have to pay hefty fines every time they infringe the law. For social media companies, it could have potentially cost them many millions of dollars per year.

And of course illicit content means anything that would be considered threating or insulting, such as death threats, discrimination, Holocaust denial etc.

But the Constitutional Council says that such a technical list makes it difficult to rule what is illicit content and what is not. Due to the short window of time, online platforms can't check with a court whether a tweet, a post, a photo or a blog post is deemed as illicit or not. When you combine that with potential fines, the Constitutional Council fears that online platforms will censor content a bit too quickly.

The government said it would respond to the criticisism and change the law accordingly.



Censorship at a moment's notice...

France lawmakers pass an extreme censorship law that will result in even more of the internet being hosted and controlled by US internet giants

Link Here 14th May 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
France has adopted a new censorship law forcing internet companies to take down content that that the government doesn't like at breakneck speed.

After months of debate, the lower house of Parliament adopted the legislation, which will require platforms such as Google, Twitter and Facebook to remove flagged hateful content within 24 hours and flagged terrorist propaganda within one hour. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to 1.25 million euro.

The new rules apply to all websites, whether large or small. But there are concerns that only internet giants such as Facebook and Google actually have the resources to remove content as quickly as required.

Digital rights group La Quadrature du Net said the requirement to take down content that the police considered terrorism in just one hour was impractical.

The worrying outcome maybe that small companies are forced to present their content via larger US companies that can offer the capability that content will be censored automatically on receiving a complaint. This will of course result in the likes of Google taking even more control of the internet.

The law, which echoes similar rules already in place in Germany, piles more pressure on Silicon Valley firms to police millions of daily posts in Europe's two most populous countries.

The censorship law targets search engines as well as social media companies, has been the source of plenty of controversy. Online digital rights groups, tech companies, opposition parties have all criticized the initiative, and the Senate has led an effort to water it down by deleting the systematic deadline for removing content.

Opponents argued in particular that the law would lead to lawful content being taken down and would hand too much power to the companies charged with making decisions on what content is considered obviously unlawful.

The European Commission has also voiced criticism , writing to the French government in November to ask for the legislation to be postponed. The EU executive argued that Paris should wait for its own planned rules on platforms, the Digital Services Act, to pass to set a common EU-wide standard on policing illegal content online.



What about the fake promises?...

French Parliament passes law allowing the immediate censorship of anything claimed to be 'fake news' during elections

Link Here 23rd November 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
France's parliament has passed a new law empowering judges to order the immediate censorahip of 'fake news' during election campaigns.

The law, conceived by President Emmanuel Macron, was rejected twice by the senate before being passed by the parliament on Tuesday. It is considered western Europe's first attempt to officially ban material claimed to be fake.

Candidates and political parties will now be able to appeal to a judge to censor information claimed to be false during the three months before an election.

The law also allows the CSA, the French national TV censor, to suspend television channels controlled by a foreign state or under the influence of that state if they deliberately disseminate false information claimed likely to affect the ballot.

The law also states that users must be provided with information that is fair, clear and transparent on how their personal data is being used.



Surely a bigger threat to democracy is a crap political system that don't look after its own people...

Macron thinks that the internet censorship of 'fake news' is a panacea for widespread disrespect of politicians

Link Here4th January 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
Emmanuel Macron has vowed to introduce a law to censor 'fake news' on the internet during French election campaigns. He claimed he wanted new legislation for social media platforms during election periods in order to protect democracy.

For fake news published during election seasons, an emergency legal action could allow authorities to remove that content or even block the website, Macron said. If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must be strong and have clear rules.

He said France's media censor, the CSA, would be empowered to fight against any attempt at destabilisation by TV stations controlled or influenced by foreign states. Macron said he wanted to act against what he called propaganda articulated by thousands of social media accounts.

Macron has an axe to grind about fake news, during the election campaign in spring 2017 he filed a legal complaint after Le Pen, the Front National leader, referred to fake stories about him placing funds in an offshore account in the Bahamas. Also a bogus website resembling the site of the Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported that Saudi Arabia was financing Macron's campaign. Le Soir totally distanced itself from the report.



Update: Presumably the jihadi problem has now been solved...

French government announces that it has taken action against 2700 websites in 2016

Link Here25th January 2017
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
French authorities ordered the blockage or removal of more than 2,700 websites in 2016, Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux announced. He said that his government has requested blocks for 834 websites and that 1,929 more be pulled from search engines' results as part of the fight against child pornographic and terrorist content. He said:

To face an extremely serious terror threat, we've given ourselves unprecedented means to reinforce the efficacy of our actions.

Perhaps to obscure censorship details, Le Roux unhelpfully didn't detail any stats on what type of websites were blocked.

French authorities can block sites without a judge's order under a 2011 law that was brought into effect in after jihadist attacks killed 17 people at a satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket.



Update: Countering take down abuse...

France debates bill to protect ISPs from the use of take down orders as a means of censorship

Link Here 20th December 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

France is considering appointing an official internet ombudsman to investigate complaints about online material in order to prevent excessive censorship and preserve free speech. A bill establishing a content qualification assessment procedure has been tabled in the French senate.

Dan Shefets, a Danish lawyer explained one of the issues targeted by the bill:

ISPs face both penal and civil liability as soon as they are made aware of allegedly illicit content. One consequence of such liability is that smaller companies take down such content for fear of later sanctions.

The aim is to provide a simple procedure that will support firms operating online who are uncertain of their legal liabilities and to prevent over-zealous removal or censorship of material merely because it is the subject of a complaint. It could be copied by other European jurisdictions.

The idea is that a rapid response from the internet ombudsman would either order the material to be taken down or allow it to remain. As long as ISPs complied with the rulings, they would not face any fine or punishment.



Update: A war on words...

Media companies thwarted in their legal attempt to get the word 'torrent' banned from search engines in France

Link Here20th July 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
The High Court of Paris has decided there's a limit to France's unpopular anti-copying regime: Google and Bing can't be required to block the word torrent from their search results just because BitTorrent is sometimes used for piracy.

The case was brought by the Syndicat National de l'édition Phonographique, France's record industry association, nominally on behalf of several artists. SNEP wanted to use Article L336-2 of France's intellectual property law to force Google and Microsoft to delete searches that included both 'torrent' and any of the artists' names.

The High Court in Paris didn't think filtering torrent in all of France, the Wallis and Futuna islands, New Caledonia and the French Southern and Antarctic territories was appropriate.

In a case against Google, the court found that SNEP was acting on behalf of only three artists, rather than for all of its members:

The case would not protect the interests of the entire profession, but ensure the protection of individual interests of members who produce these three artists.

In a case against Microsoft, the court stated the requests made by SNEP were too broad:

They do not concern an identified site, but all sites accessed by the requested terms, regardless of the identification and even determining the content of the site ... The measures sought are similar to general surveillance measure and could cause the blocking of legitimate sites.

The judgements award costs against SNEP in both cases.



Update: Offensive against Facebook...

French jewish groups set to launch legal action against Facebook for not censoring enough posts

Link Here 17th May 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
Three jewsih organisations in France say they are planning legal action against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for failing to remove posts that the gorups consider to be hate speech

The French Jewish Students Union (UEJF), SOS Racisme and SOS Homophobie say they found 586 posts between 31 March and 10 May that they claim to be offensive. But they claim only a small percentage was taken down.

French law states that racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic content must be removed from websites.

YouTube's side of the argument can be inferred from deciding that the posts did not break their rule:

But from YouTube's side of the argument, they decided not to remove the content when tested against their rules that YouTube does not support content which:

Promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status or sexual orientation/gender identity, or whose primary purpose is inciting hatred on the basis of these core characteristics.

Facebook also decided that the posts did not break their rules and added also that it does allow:

Clear attempts at humour or satire that might otherwise be considered a possible threat or attack.

Twitter' also decided that complained about posts did not transgress their rules.



Update: Sincere flattery...

French MP takes inspiration from the UK and proposes default internet blocking

Link Here17th July 2015
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

A French MP has started the ball rolling on internet censorship on the grounds that children need to be protected from X-rated sites.

MP Jean-Jacques Candelier of the Democratic and Republican Left said that he'd had enough of the scourge of freely available online pornography. He wrote to Laurence Rossignol, the Secretary of State for the Family, Elderly People and Adult Care, asking for the government to introduce an access code in France, meaning that adults who want to see pornographic content online must manually opt-in to gain entry.

Failing that, Candelier suggested a default blocking of all pornography online, a move he said was inspired by David Cameron's controversial internet filters that came into effect in the UK last year.

The MP told France TV Info:

I don't condemn the existence of these sites, but they have to be reserved for adults. We need to put in place a system of access codes that will be asked for every time someone tries to connect to these sites,



Update: Every Country Rules the World...

French court demands that Google blocks searches world wide, not just on French Google

Link Here 9th October 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
In one of the first rulings of its kind, a French court last month ordered Google to remove links to defamatory information from its search results globally .

Up to now, most rulings have limited themselves to the local top level domain -- such as However, the decision of the High Court in Paris was that this would be insufficient because even in France users can search using the domain.

If Google does not comply, it will face daily fines of 1,000 euros.



Update: #HandThemOverOrElse...

A Jewish Students group demands silly money from Twitter over allegedly slow response to a French court order to reveal information about insulting tweets

Link Here 22nd March 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

A Jewish student group has announced it was taking further legal action against Twitter over the supposed lack of response to a French court order to hand over data to help identify the authors of insulting tweets.

The association is claiming the extortionate sum of 38.5 million euros ($50 million) in damages, according to the text of the summons for Twitter to appear before the civil court's criminal division.

Twitter said it was in discussions with the Jewish student group but that unfortunately they are more interested in these grand gestures than in finding an adequate international procedure to obtain the requested information. It added that the French court had only notified it of the earlier ruling a few days ago and that they would appeal the January 24th decision.

Update: Handed Over

13th July 2013. See  article from

Twitter has handed French authorities data which could identify the users behind a spate of tweets accused of being antisemitic after a long court battle begun by anti-racism campaigners.

In a rare move, Twitter announced that in response to a valid legal request it had provided the Paris prosecutor with data that may enable the identification of certain users that the vice-prosecutor believes have violated French law . Twitter said this gesture put an end to the long legal dispute.



Update: #HandThemOverOrElse...

French court orders Twitter to identify posters to hashtag threads of insults to jews

Link Here 25th January 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

A French court has ordered Twitter to hand over the identities of users posting to allegedly anti-semetic Twitter hashtags or threads.

In a test case which will have widespread implications for the millions who tweet every day, the Tribunal de Grande Instance ruled it unacceptable for people to post hateful material anonymously.

This was despite lawyers for the hugely popular micro-blogging site refusing to assist detectives.

Jewish students brought the case, claiming Twitter had a moral duty to name and shame hateful posters. In October, the student bodies asked Twitter to remove a number of messages which appeared under the hashtag #unbonjuif (#agoodjew), with examples including: #agoodjew is a dead Jew. The hashtag became the third most popular in France, with thousands attacking the religion.

Alexandre Neri, Twitter's French barrister, had told the court that Twitter data is collected and stored in the United States , namely in San Francisco, where the site is based. Ms Neri said that Twitter was accordingly subject to US law , adding: Should I submit myself to the law of a different country to where I work? I don't know. Ms Neri suggested that only an American judge could decide whether a US company should hand over data to the French authorities.



Update: Politically Correct Censorship Trending in France...

French minister still angling for censorship control over Twitter

Link Here16th January 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

After the anti-Semitic hashtag UnBonJuif (a good Jew) made its way into the trending topics of Twitter in France last October, the Association of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) began legal action against the site.

The UEJF also called for Twitter to implement a censorship system for users to report illegal content or hate speech. So far, this has been to no avail, as the US-headquartered Twitter is claiming to be bound only by US rather than local laws, which would permit such hashtags under the First Amendment.

Speaking on French TV show Medias, le magazine last week, France's minister for the digital economy Fleur Pellerin acknowledged that multinational companies like Twitter, being somehow deterritorialised , raise new challenges . Pellerin added she would like to talk directly with Twitter in order to work out a more co-operative approach to censorship. She said she would in particular like to see Twitter filtering its trending topics list.

In the meantime, the case is still with the Paris courts and the next court date will be 24 January, when a judge will rule on the case.



Update: Unshared Words...

French Supreme Court bans file sharing terms from Google's auto complete

Link Here1st August 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

The French Supreme Court has ruled that Google should censor the words torrent , rapidshare and megaupload from its Instant and Autocomplete search services.

Music industry group SNEP asked the court to stop the terms from being suggested in Google's searches because, it claimed, Google was thereby facilitating piracy.

A lower court rejected the request from SNEP because it said that these links did not constitute infringement of copyright in and of themselves. However, the Supreme Court has reversed the decision, saying that the relief sought by the group was likely to prevent or partially stop infringements.

The search firm actually already blocks piracy-related terms from Autocomplete, but on its own terms. The web giant announced back in December 2010 on one of its blogs that it was taking steps to stop copyright infringement, including blocking search terms closely associated with piracy.


13th April

Update: Dangerous Reading...

French cabinet agrees new measures to ban 'regular visits' to websites inciting or praising terrorism

France's conservative government has unveiled new counterterrorism measures to punish those who visit extremist websites or travel to weapons-training camps abroad, in the wake of killings by an suspected Islamic extremist in southern France last month.

The measures now go to Parliament, where they may face resistance from the Socialists, who say France's legal arsenal against terrorism is already strong enough and that the proposal is a campaign ploy to boost President Nicolas Sarkozy's chances at a second term.

Sarkozy's Cabinet gave its go-ahead to measures that would make it illegal to travel abroad to indoctrination and weapons-training camps for terrorist ends or to regularly visit websites that incite or praise deadly terrorism.

Sarkozy's government insists the measures are needed to fight the relatively new phenomenon of lone wolf terrorism by extremists who self-radicalize online via jihadist Web sites, and are hard for authorities to track.


21st October

Update: Undercover Copwatch...

Court orders French ISPs to block Paris Copwatch website

A French court has ruled that local ISPs must block access to the website, Copwatch Nord Paris I-D-F , that shows pictures and videos of police officers arresting suspects, taunting protesters and allegedly committing acts of violence against members of ethnic minorities.

Law enforcement officials, who had denounced the site as an incitement to violence against the police, welcomed the decision.

But free speech advocates reacted with alarm, saying the ruling reflected a French tendency to restrict Internet freedoms.

This court order illustrates an obvious will by the French government to control and censor citizens' new online public sphere, said Je're'mie Zimmermann, spokesman for La Quadrature du Net, a Paris-based organization that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet.

The police had said they were particularly concerned about portions of the site showing identifiable photos of police officers, along with personal data, including some cases in which officers are said to express far-right sympathies on social networks.

The case was then taken up by Claude Gue'ant, the French interior minister. He had asked the court to issue an order blocking only certain pages of the site, those showing the most sensitive personal information. But ISps argued that this would be impossible,.

The court ordered that the site be blocked immediately.


28th June

Comment: Vastly Disproportionate Power...

French government looking to enact powers for general internet censorship

The French citizen rights group La Quadrature reported this week that its government is entertaining an executive draft that would give the French government the power to arbitrarily censor any content or service on the Net. According to the site, the law would grant government officials the power to cut off access to websites which harms or otherwise puts at risk public order and security, the protection of minors, of public health, national defence, or physical persons.

News site Tech Dirt compared the order to China's infamous internet censorship, the cleverly-titled Great Firewall. We'll leave it to our readers to come up with a funny French pun for the country's own efforts.

Jeremie Zimmermann, a spokesperson for La Quadrature, criticized the proposal.

This draft executive order aims to give the government a vastly disproportionate power to censor any website or content on the Internet, said Zimmermann. It is an obvious violation of the principle of separation of powers, and strongly harms freedom of communication online. This is an extremely disturbing drift, in direct continuity with the French government's repressive

He concluded that the order must absolutely be rejected.

Offsite Comment: France on its way to total Internet censorship?

28th June 2011. See  article from by Félix Tréguer

On 15 June, 2011, website PC INpact revealed the existence of a draft executive order which would give the French government the power to arbitrarily censor any content or service on the Net.

To implement article 18 of the law for the Digital Economy of June 21st, 2004, the French government is proposing to give to several of its ministries the power to order the censorship of online content that harms or otherwise puts at risk public order and security, the protection of minors, of public health, national defence, or physical persons*. Websites ranging from WikiLeaks to The Pirate Bay could fall under the broad scope of the decree.

...Read the full article


22nd December

Update: In the Name of the Children...

France gives nod to government internet blocking without judicial review

The French General Assembly has adopted a bill on December 15 to allow the Government to filter the internet without court intervention.

Article 4 of the so-called LOPPSI 2 law on guidelines and programming for the performance of internal security), referred to the blocking of child pornography sites.

But some MPs among the assembly attacked Article 4, which in effect allowed the government to filter the Internet using a blacklist issued by the Ministry of Interior, without the intervention of the judiciary. Critics of the measure argued it might also allow the ISP-level blocking of websites considered by the authorities as undesirable, without judiciary control.

After passing through the French National Assembly, the text will go back to the Senate at the beginning of 2011.

Update: Passed

29th March 2011. Based on article from

The French Constitutional Council has released its decision1 regarding the LOPPSI bill. Judges held that article 4 of the bill, which allows the executive branch to censor the Net under the pretext of fighting child pornography, is not contrary to the Constitution. In doing so, the constitutional court has failed to protect fundamental freedoms on the Internet, and in particular freedom of expression. Hopes lie now in European institutions, which are the only ones with the power to prohibit or at least supervise administrative website blocking and its inherent risks of abuse.

The LOPSSI law compiled many repressive measures on vastly unrelated subjects. The Constitutional Council found itself caught by this strategy. While it did strike down some of the most shocking provisions, it left untouched those that seemed less harmful or were proposed in the name of noble goals, in spite of having a highly detrimental impact on civil liberties, such as the ones related to the Internet.


16th February

Update: Over Blocking Assured...

French internet blocking being fast tracked

French lawmakers will vote today on a proposal to filter Internet traffic. Part of a new security bill, the measure is supposedly to catch child pornographers. Once the filtering system is in place, though, it will allow the government to censor other material too.

The National Assembly has already spent two days debating the grandly titled Bill on direction and planning for the performance of domestic security, known as Loppsi II in French, with deputies voting to reject all the amendments that sought to limit the Internet filtration provisions.

If adopted as such, the law will oblige ISPs to block the access to the sites included on a list established by the French administration without any judicial control, under the pretext of the protection of children. When the need to fight against the dissemination of images and representations of minors according to the provisions of article 227-23 of the criminal code justifies it, the administrative authority notifies the persons mentioned at item 1 (i.e.ISPs) the Internet addresses of online public communication services that are subject to the provisions of this article for which these persons must prevent the access without delay says article 4 of the law.

Lionel Tardy also proposes to force the administrative authority to specify to the ISPs which are the filtering techniques they can use to block paedophilic sites. The law must not resume to ordering the blocking of the access to certain Internet sites, but indicate to ISPs what techniques they may use. The obligation they bear should be an obligation of means and for that, the means that can be put in force must be listed said the deputy.

Deputies had sought to amend the text to require blocking only of specific URLs or documents, not of entire sites, so as to reduce collateral damage, and to require that a judge review the list of blocked URLs each month to ensure that sites were not needlessly blocked. Those amendments were, however, rejected, as was one making the filters a temporary, experimental measure until their effectiveness was proven.

Similar arguments on over-blocking were raised by Aurélien Boch from Internet users association OBEDI who explained: when an address is filtered, all the sites hosted by the same server will be filtered whether it is the site of Nouvel Observateur or a pornographic site. He also pointed out that as the list will be secret, it will be impossible to verify which sites are filtered .


12th February

Comment: Foot in the Door...

Concerns as French lawmakers approve internet censorship in the name of child protection

During the debate over the French security bill (LOPPSI), the government opposed all the amendments seeking to minimize the risks attached to filtering Internet sites.

The refusal to make this measure experimental and temporary shows that the executive could not care less about its effectiveness to tackle online child pornography or about its disastrous consequences.

This measure will allow the French government to take control of the Internet, as the door is now open to the extension of Net filtering.

Moreover, whereas the effectiveness of the Net filtering provision cannot be proven, the French government refuses to take into account the fact that over-blocking - i.e the collateral censorship of perfectly lawful websites - is inevitable2.

Protection of childhood is shamelessly exploited by Nicolas Sarkozy to implement a measure that will lead to collateral censorship and very dangerous drifts. After the HADOPI comes the LOPPSI: the securitarian machinery of the government is being deployed in an attempt to control the Internet at the expense of freedoms , concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.


29th October

Update: Government Mellows Over a Fine Wine...

French minister supports allowing internet websites for wines

The French minister of health supports changing the Evin Law to allow wine advertising on the internet.

Despite continued fierce opposition from anti-alcohol groups, Roselyne Bachelot told Le Figaro: When we initially drew up the Evin Law we did not take into account the internet, because at the time it was not as developed as it is today.

Despite this, national demonstrations against the law will still go ahead on Thursday.

A CIVB spokesperson told While we welcome the news that the internet may now be a legal method of promotion for winemakers, this has not yet been made official – and is not the only threat to French wine.

Demonstrators will cover up any signs for villages that also carry the name of an appellation - such as Saint Emilion, Pauillac or Margaux - to highlight the absurdity of the censorship.


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