Leading French Presidential Candidate Would Repeal HADOPI But Keep Net Surveillance
from the out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire dept
As a recent Techdirt post noted, France’s HADOPI “three strikes” policy has effectively criminalized vast swathes of that country. Despite widespread opposition, the law was pushed through in 2009 by the current French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, as one of his pet projects – it’s probably no coincidence that he is married to a pop singer.
Sadly, the damage to online users’ civil liberties caused by HADOPI’s approach of guilt upon accusation is not limited to France: variations on the “three strikes” law have appeared in the UK and New Zealand, and other countries are flirting with the idea of introducing something similar. In addition, Sarkozy used the G8 meeting in Paris this year to call for the “wild west” of the Internet to be regulated ? which presumably means passing even more copyright-friendly laws around the world.
Against that background, news that Sarkozy’s campaign for re-election next year is struggling badly gains an extra interest:
The French Socialist party’s newly elected presidential candidate, Francois Hollande, would score a landslide victory over Nicolas Sarkozy if the election was held tomorrow, according to an opinion poll.
The survey ? the first since Hollande, 57, was nominated as the Socialists’ official candidate ? gave him a crushing 62% of votes against just 38% for the incumbent in the final round of a two-round vote.
With seven months to go before the presidential elections next April and May, anything could happen. But the poll, carried out by CSA and published on Wednesday, shows a level of support never before achieved by a Socialist candidate.
As that points out, there’s still a quite a while to go before the elections, and so Hollande’s election to the Presidency is by no means certain. But given his unprecedented showing at this stage it’s worth looking at what his position would be on HADOPI if he were to win.
Until recently, his views were clear: he voted against HADOPI when it was passing through the French Parliament, and said he wanted it repealed. But a few weeks ago, from total abolition his position shifted to what amounts to only a partial repeal, as revealed in a blog post by his digital policy adviser outlining Hollande’s plans (in French).
To be sure, they contain some good ideas: encouraging more “legal” online music services by making it easier for startups to license music from major record companies, and proposing the creation of a new “remix right”. Most importantly, they will remove the threat of connections being cut if people are accused several times of downloading copyrighted material. Sadly, though, Hollande aims to keep one key aspect of HADOPI ? its surveillance of users:
maintain the mechanism for detecting piracy and warning Internet users (for discussion: as a last resort, the user’s file could be sent to the copyright holders for civil suits)
Clearly, if that point currently marked as “for discussion” were implemented it would give a powerful new weapon to the copyright industries to deploy against those accused of downloading or sharing unauthorized copies. It would probably cause even more of the shake-down schemes we have seen elsewhere to spring up ? with the added twist that the copyright holders would have access to the user’s connection records. That’s clearly a dreadful prospect in terms of preserving people’s privacy online, and would be wide open to abuse.
If Hollande does indeed become the next President of France, let’s hope that he doesn’t follow in the footsteps of his predecessor by bringing in such a bad Internet law.