France Censors Site That Hosts Videos & Photos Of Police Misconduct

from the privacy-violations? dept

While US courts have started to make it clear that recording police on duty is perfectly legal, it appears that France is going in the opposite direction. In a recent ruling, a French court has ordered ISPs to block access to a website, which hosts videos and photos taken by citizens demonstrating police misconduct. Apparently, the court claims that such videos and photos, in conjunction with the names and affiliations of the officers seen, is a violation of privacy rights. As is explained in a comment on Volokh's site:
the dissemination of photographs and videos in addition to the names and affiliations of those police officers therein were treated as privacy violations. The court cites Art. 2 of the law of January 6, 1978, which makes makes it illegal for private sector entities to process personal identifying information without first registering with a government commission (CNIL). Moreover, dissemination of that personal identifying information has to be done under conditions that respect the privacy of the persons in question. The court also treats certain statements made about the police on the website as defamatory.
The "defamation" claim at the end may make some people think that this move is more justified, but a later comment clarifies the statements seen as "defamatory." None appeared to implicate any individual, but rather complain about the police in general and seem to be pretty obvious hyperbole -- i.e., things that wouldn't normally be seen as defamatory. The privacy claim is simply ridiculous. It seems to assume privacy rights where none exist.

It's difficult to see how this decision is anything other than an attempt by the French courts to hide police misconduct. That seems rather shameful.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

    France: New Nazi Germany.

     

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    •  
      icon
      Keith_Emperor_of_Penguins (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:06pm

      Re:

      They surrendered

       

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      •  
        icon
        WysiWyg (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 12:13am

        Re: Re:

        No they didn't! Check up on you history, the France that exists today comes from the ones that did NOT surrender, that fought tooth and nails!

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:39pm

      Re:

      wow the first comment is a Godwin! You could have said France the new Stalinist ... but no you went straight for hitler. -10 internets. Please disconnect your self from the interwebs!

       

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        btr1701 (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re:

        > wow the first comment is a Godwin!

        Wow, and it only took three comments before another of those tiresome references to Godwin popped up.

        Once upon a time some guy on the internet made a comment about Nazis and folks like you act like it's become one of the immutable laws of the universe.

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:42pm

    ribbit, ribbit.

     

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    identicon
    Joe Citoyen, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    Don't they remember the last time the government became too oppressive? I guess if all else fails there's always room for a shave with the national razor.

     

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      Gus Jenkins, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 4:15am

      Re:

      No. The national razor is being sharpened and reserved for the common people who sneak back onto the Internet after their third strike.

       

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    identicon
    Vic, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:48pm

    Are you sure that their government is by the people and for the people? I suspect they are still longing for an emperor...

     

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    monkyyy, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    well..... who didnt see this coming? after the 3 strike laws

     

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    Atkray (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Actually it makes sense.

    ¿How can they have a secret police if people put their pictures on the internet?

     

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    gorehound (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 2:00pm

    Use a server in Germany !

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Don't worry. The censorship of that site is only temporary; full transparency will resume as soon as the French government resolves the current cake shortage crisis.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 2:07pm

    Remarkably, the privacy laws in Europe (and France) are different from the US. Go figure.

     

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      abc gum, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 5:51pm

      Re:

      Remarkably, censorship abounds no matter where you go.
      Funny how "privacy" is used here - and the fact that only some people are afforded it.

       

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    anonymous, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 2:31pm

    strange how this ruling has come out in favour of the police but the rights to privacy of the people are non-existent. are the police not employed by the people? are they not supposed to uphold the law, not abuse it? seems that France is following in the foot steps of USA. the police can (and do) do whatever the hell they want, with no recourse

     

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      Bergman (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 11:00pm

      Re:

      Actually, they have the same recourse they exercised in 1789. When government fully loses touch with the common people, the result is inevitable. The only question is how soon.

       

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 12:05am

    I was reading about this over on boingboing, and some people read the ruling.

    The court was not against having videos and such posted, they were however against the mean words being used to describe them. Infact if they removed some of the commentary it could stand.

    While I dislike the idea of speech being restrained, its France and they have different laws. This was more about the descriptions of the officers as less than human rather than about the videos.

     

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    Major, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 1:35am

    Ok...Here is what i think after checking the facts

    I am not exactly trying to defend them but after reading the pdf in french, i checked a most of the document and found what the admin of the website wrote :

    "Nous n’hésiterons pas à user de termes sévères à l’égard de la Police et de la Gendarmerie, car nous considérons ces institutions comme la fosse commune de l’humanité, le charnier de l’évolution, la mise à mort quotidienne de la déontologie et de l’éthique. Nous serons sans équivoque"

    Which translate :

    "We won't hesitate to use harsh words toward Police and Gendarmerie, because we consider these institutions as the common grave of mankind, the mass grave of evolution, the daily death of Conduct and Ethics. We will be clear in that matter."

    Might be a little harsh if you put all of them in the same basket. Thats why i dont think the defamation case is that far fetched. The two institution doesn't even get along very well :)


    Puting the videos aside, The privacy claim ain't exactly ridiculous :
    "le site procède à une opération de collecte de données à caractère personnel en diffusant des photographies, noms et affectations de fonctionnaires de police"

    the website admin was collecting personnal info of many officer storing picture,name,address and workplace.

    I may be a little biased about that but, if i was a police officer hated because of a few rotten apple. i wouldn't feel secure having my personal information available online...

    Ok nevermind, in the news they are saying that the guys actually found most of these infos using Facebook, i cannot defend any officer using that -_-

     

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      Hans B PUFAL (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 7:17am

      Re: Ok...Here is what i think after checking the facts

      Regardless of the merits of the case, making ISP's block the web site has no effect, proven by my gaining access to the site after calling up a Google search for "free proxy", the second on the list gave me access. Yes I live in France and yes the site is inaccessible via direct browsing.

      So, since I CAN still access the site, should I contact my ISP to let them know that they are breaking the law?

       

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        Major, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 8:01am

        Re: Re: Ok...Here is what i think after checking the facts

        I am indeed against censorship in all its form but was there any (non violent) way to make him remove at least the personal data of the officer ? the name and workplace might be fine, but picture and address ?

        The issue here is that the site admin is probably hard to argue with... Oh well.

         

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    eddy albert, Oct 23rd, 2011 @ 5:14pm

    police misconduct

    When you act as a public servant (a policeman in this case) you must accept responsibility for what you do in that role. You must not be protected by your status as a private person.(You can do that when you take off your uniform).

    KEEP THEM ACCOUNTABLE!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:47am

    Police state.

     

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    identicon
    william, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 6:21am

    Gatineau police

    Take a look at this video that has gone viral on the internet about Gatineau police conduct shooting animals near a school:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jry92dhOtaw

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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