French Government Looks To Create Great Firewall Of France

from the following-in-the-footsteps-of-china dept

It was just a few weeks ago that Nicolas Sarkozy brought together a bunch of techies at the e-G8 to tell them that he wanted to start regulating the internet much more seriously. Apparently, he’s not wasting much time. There’s a draft executive order making the rounds that would give the French government wide latitude in censoring the internet throughout France. It really sounds quite similar to China’s “Great Firewall.”

To implement article 18 of the law for the Digital Economy of June 21th, 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.

Clearly, the definition of these categories of content are both vague and overreaching. Such censorship measures ? whether they consist in the removal or filtering of content ? would be directly undertaken by the government, without any decision by a judicial authority. In practice, they would apply to all kinds of websites or online news services.

This isn’t going to go over well.

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Comments on “French Government Looks To Create Great Firewall Of France”

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Tor (profile) says:

I’m quite sure any law along those lines would violate the European Convention on Human Rights (restrictions on human rights must according to case law be necessary in a democratic society, respond to a pressing social need, be foreseeable and be clearly defined in the law – none of which seems to be the case here), but it’s still worrying to see high politicians contribute to the potential normalization of such authoritarian methods.

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

This is truly saddening. The beauty of the internet is that, with few exceptions, information generally flows freely across national borders. Information and culture is freely shared in the online community, and it has all been humming along just fine for the past couple of decades; increasing our understanding of one another.

Efforts, such as this one, to put up national borders in the digital space will impact that shared understanding and bring plenty of negatives along with it. And for what? People in France will still be able to access banned information if they want. In the same way that I could walk across the border between the USA and Canada at any number of points without going through an official border crossing, users seeking banned information will just have to take a slightly more circuitous route to find it.

And all the rest of us need to worry about as a result is increased censorship. Terrific.

anonymous says:

seems to me that it is about time ‘Napoleon’ Sarkosy got his comeuppance! i cant see this going down very well with the French citizens. what makes me so cross is that everything that is happening now concerning the world’s internet, all seemed to start with the copyright/entertainment industries, their failure to adapt and general need to gain complete control of it. they had no idea then and have no idea now how big a can of worms was being opened.

Niall (profile) says:

Re:

It’s as much, if not more, about ‘cultural imperialism’. The French have always resented that their contributions to culture “ended with the word ‘chauffeur'” (quoted courtesy of Bill Bryson). They are also terrified of their language being ‘diluted’ or ‘corrupted’ by English, hence why they have big national organisations to preserve it.

For obvious reasons, the internet is full of English which will ‘destroy’ French civilisation. Add to that the ‘endemic rot’ of American film and TV going into popular culture and you have an easy vote-winner for right-wing politicians who want to play a more subtle nationalist card.

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

Re:

So you’re saying that a small fraction of a percent of people is justification for putting a giant firewall around a country and bringing national borders into the digital space more than they already are? I find that difficult to believe.

It’s more likely this has to do with the fraction of the fraction of the percent of the world’s population that are pedophiles. Clearly, this is about protecting the children…

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