French Government Looking To Set Up The Great Firewall Of France?
from the gov't-censorship dept
We’ve seen our fair share of bad legal rulings come out of France over the years (remember when they declared Yahoo a war criminal? And, of course, we’re all familiar with France’s ridiculous three strikes “Hadopi” law, that will kick people off the internet based on accusations (not convictions), and which apparently doesn’t apply to the government itself, which has been caught infringing on the intellectual property of others multiple times. But, apparently, that was all just the warmup for a law that will turn France into the China of the west when it comes to Internet censorship and ISP secondary liability.
Kevin Donovan points us to a report noting that a bill cruising through the French Parliament would massively increase state-backed internet censorship and surveillance with a bill called Loppsi 2. Beyond requiring ISPs to completely block access to a list of sites the government doesn’t like, it would also:
“[make] it the responsibility of each Internet service provider to ensure that users don’t have access to unsuitable content.”
That’s the kind of secondary liability for ISPs that is used in China to create the “Great Firewall” of censorship, and it’s the same sort of thing that is currently being pushed in ACTA negotiations by certain parties as well.
But, that’s not all. Loppsi 2 also would allow for massive government surveillance via trojan horse applications that would let the government spy on computer usage:
Police and security forces would be able to use clandestinely installed software, known in the jargon as a “Trojan horse,” to spy on private computers. Remote access to private computers would be made possible under the supervision of a judge.
So why is France doing this? From the article linked above, the speculation is that it’s a really base political ploy by president Nicolas Sarkozy, worried about his and his party’s poll ratings, and looking to be seen as a “tough on crime” and “for the children” kind of candidate:
In the face of a rampant economic crisis, growing unemployment, a devastatingly large budget deficit and various political scandals, Sarkozy is pulling out a presidential trump card. He is hoping that fear of criminals will convince voters to come to the polling booths.
In that respect, there is no more suitable issue than child pornography on the Internet and the hunt for pedophile criminals whose only desire is to seduce innocents via their home computers. According to that argument, it is necessary to impose controls on the digital world and introduce state surveillance, so that a pro-active Big Brother can fight the cyber world’s sexual deviants who are, in all likelihood, lurking on Facebook or Twitter.
Please tell me French citizens are smart enough not to fall for something like that. In other places, proposing such strict censorship and surveillance legislation has been known to backfire, and already it does look like Sarkozy’s political opponents are screaming in protest over this. Taking away people’s rights over a bogus “but think of the children” scare, seems like the kind of old school political tactics that hopefully will start to backfire more often than succeed as people realize that they’re being lied to.