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.

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Comments on “France Censors Site That Hosts Videos & Photos Of Police Misconduct”

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anonymous says:

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

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

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.

Major says:

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?h?siterons pas ? user de termes s?v?res ? l??gard de la Police et de la Gendarmerie, car nous consid?rons ces institutions comme la fosse commune de l?humanit?, le charnier de l??volution, la mise ? mort quotidienne de la d?ontologie et de l??thique. Nous serons sans ?quivoque”

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 proc?de ? une op?ration de collecte de donn?es ? caract?re 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 -_-

Hans B PUFAL (profile) says:

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?

Major says:

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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