France Announces Plans To Hold The Internet Responsible For Terrorism

from the misfire dept

And on it goes. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, much of the world rallied around a French magazine’s free speech right to publish controversial text and images concerning Islam, a major world religion. Since that solidarity was expressed, France has strategically sought to undermine its own support of free expression through some of the most arcane law enforcement actions concerning speech to date. From arresting comedians, to threats against news organizations, all the way to stepping into the muck with a bunch of racist idiots, France has shown that it’s not a country that defends free and open speech — but rather one that only defends the speech with which it agrees. But if any of that troubled you, you may be disappointed to learn that it was only the precursor to a full on attack on free speech on the internet.

President Francois Hollande said Tuesday in Paris the government will present a draft law next month that makes Internet operators “accomplices” of hate-speech offenses if they host extremist messages. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he will travel to the U.S. to seek help from the heads of Twitter Inc. (TWTR) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) as well as Google and Facebook. Spokesmen for the companies did not immediately return requests for comment.

It’s exactly the wrong move on France’s part. What was once a rallying moment for Western values and open speech has now devolved into a full-on attempt to censor speech online. If this law passes, internet services will have no choice but to seek to proactively censor all sorts of speech just to avoid liability. It’s the exact opposite of the systems and policies that made the internet such a welcome home to free expression.

It would be one thing if any part of this plan made even the least bit of sense, which it doesn’t, but where this gets really stupid is in the strategic impact this would have were it to be put in place. Extremists that have since gathered online will now be pushed back into places where they cannot be so easily monitored. What was essentially a honeypot of sorts will be neutered. How does that make even the smallest amount of sense, even throwing aside the horrific implications this has on France’s willingness to censor speech it does not care for?

Add to that the purely hamfisted attempt to label innocent service providers as “accomplices” under the shade of a recent terror attack, and you might think this couldn’t get any more cynical. You’d be wrong.

Hollande, speaking at a Paris memorial for Jews deported during World War II, said he would discuss a crackdown on racist and extremist Internet posts with global leaders at a ceremony at Auschwitz, Poland, on Tuesday as they meet to commemorate the death camp’s liberation 70 years ago. At last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Hollande called on Internet companies to help identify and shut down illegal content. France has laws against making racist statements or denying the Holocaust.

Just so everyone is clear, the victims of a Nazi book-burning and speech-restricting regime are being propped up as a rallying point for the further restriction of speech and writing. That goes beyond hubris and enters the realm of the bizarrely cruel. France has a problem on its hands: speech is under attack by Islamic extremists. The answer to that cannot be the attack of other forms of speech. All that does is lend credibility to the enemy’s wishes. Why would France want to do that?

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Comments on “France Announces Plans To Hold The Internet Responsible For Terrorism”

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JWW (profile) says:


Wow, they totally missed the point of that rally they had a few weeks ago.

Free Speech means you have the right to insult. Period.

Politically, I likely disagree very strongly with most stances the Charlie Hebdo magazine takes. But they have the RIGHT TO SAY THEM!

When we are unable to speak we are controlled, when we are controlled we are not free.

France is doing just what the Charlie Hebdo ATTACKERS want them to do.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Wow

Politically, I likely disagree very strongly with most stances the Charlie Hebdo magazine takes. But they have the RIGHT TO SAY THEM!

Indeed. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” — Voltaire.

The French have lost their way, it appears. However, they’re not the only ones. It’s a common affliction this century.

I hate this century.

Dysmey (profile) says:

No choice?

The phrase “internet services will have no choice” is not clear. Does it mean they must censor in France, or censor everywhere? If it is just in France, then those ‘internet services’ will have to do what Google would have done anyway, and create a dumbed-down version of their services for the European market. Either that, or pull out entirely. It is not as if the Minitel country is of any importance to the Internet, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

What Francois Hollande is demanding is nothing less that the banning of public discussion on the Internet, except where it is under the direct control of an editor, who decides what get published. I wonder which lobbyists from the MPAA/RIAA have been suggesting that the Internet needs editorial control, as such a would also cause problems for the sites that compete with them by allowing self publishing including Vimeo, Youtube, Flickr, just to name a few.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hate speech, were the definition will change to suit their needs, or the pre-cursor to ban other opinions that disagree with theirs

Now i dont agree with misguided individuals who unwisely spout fucked up shit, but you give our governments even one leeway on this area, then you let our governments dictate what is and is’nt allowed in ALL areas, this is a new authority

if you have any kind of critical thinking, you’ll know that eventually their gonna end up silencing things that have no right to be silenced………thats what IM afraid of, afraid that we as nations will end up being powerless to stop something alot of people disagree with, NOT an interest to see widespread hate speech, that i see folks assume, that when they see advocates for governments not having this kind of power, that they must be one of these misguided individuals who unwisely spout these fucked up shit

And i have to question, if something like that doesnt bother you, i’d ask you to genuinely look within yourselves and ask, whether thats a decision YOU made, or made by the very real governments peer pressure………or maybe you believe, believe the end justifying the means, in that case, you are not fighting for freedom or liberty, your fighting something else entirelly, and tends to piss people off alot of the times when these particular folks say they ARE fighting for libirty and freedom, one, because these folks are either maliciois liars or ignorant liars,…..and 2, good natured but over trustworthy supporters beleive and then fight for their own non self interests, which adds another layer of frustration to those manipulators

Anyway, ideological rant over

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is a new, profound, long lasting authority, not something you just pass as a whim especially in a manipulated emotional environment, that just rings alarm bells

Our governments job is not to become the most powerfull, its their to protect the rights of all individuals equally, not give rights, not take rights, to protect rights ……that is NOT what ive seen so far in ANY government ive read about……..look up their, they have no authority to take or even give a right that is naturally yours

Think of a gazelle, running for its life from a lion……..why is that gazelle running, why doesnt the gazelle just stand there while it see’s the lion running towards it, why does it care to run, what makes it run……..that right there, that makes the gazelle and what we all share, is a naturall right, in the human case protected, written into law……the right to defend ones self, to preserve oneself, and because were all equal in that natural response, in turn a gazelle has no more right to take the lions life……unless the gazelle or lion is forced too, in order to preserve itself, and you only need to preserve yourself if the other one violates your natural right to want too live in the first place……….anyway, dont mind me

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Imediate threats, not a, ill defend myself against the next person who looks like that guy who violated our combined right and got away that one time…….if thats allowed to happen as it is now, there’ll be no end in sight, we’ll go round and round……no, for a side to think its okay to DESTROY another side, WHOEVER that side, that would be aside we all will fear, WHOEVER that side…..have to be strong for the now, so we can all have a carefree future…….the percent amount i put on the peacfull future as things stand now is 0.01%……its not the terrorists who run the world, and its certainly not us …..running our lives……..we’ve compromised to many rights

Im not saying i cant see the good reason for having an entity be there to help us while we gradully relly on them less, but thats not what i see happening…… fact i see metalities/personalities out their that pose real fucking risk to liberty and freedom, and im worried what the future will bring with these new authorities in these peoples hand, the next level of control they get from this never before seen level of surveillance

People are weary, and nothing MEANINGFULL is being done to alliviate this weariness…….frustration when the complete OPPOSITE is done

Well, i seem to be, in a philosophical mood today

Anonymous Coward says:

So let me get this straight...

What goes for sense in this guys little head is this: Terrorists are destroying our values by attacking free speech, therefore we must assure that free speech is limited?

So first it is, what? Hate speech and denying holocaust? My guess is that the next step is either to put criticism of the government under hate speech or simply start blocking everything that is not “good christian white values” and in support of the country.
He disgusts me to my very core.
I wonder how many terrorists they will have created in 20 years by going down this road with censoring and surveillance everywhere, because that is surely how opposers will be seen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So let me get this straight...

Deny the holocaust law…………if there ever was a bad idea, IRREGARDLESS of the truth of the matter, this is dictating history, to force believe of one thing over another,

Telling people what to think is 100 times worse then what this law is set out to supposedly do

Whose bright idea was this.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

All these “terrorist” attacks seem to do is open the way for fascism to take over.

This is fascism, make no mistake. This is not free thinking standing up to chaos or tyranny. This is, “Shut up and do what we say, or we’ll imprison or kill you if necessary.”

He’s saying your point of view is disruptive to the point of being dangerous. Take it from there. Your point of view is proscribed for the good of the state and “The People.”

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think the door was always open. Wasn’t that OBL’s objective? “Watch me light a huge bag of shit on fire on their doorstep.” … Hook, line and sinker. The free world can’t get out of its own way. Budding fascists on one side and some sort of religious doomsday “our way or the highway” head chopping mother fuckers on the other. Who is stuck in-between? Everyone else. Fuck terrorism and fuck the police and fuck content control.

France.. really? What the actual fuck? We can be a smarter world without being constantly tossed by fringe elements. Speech is not one of those elements. Fuck.

Anonymous Coward says:

There's no such thing as "hate speech"

Really, there isn’t. It’s so completely subjective a concept as to be meaningless. Let me give you an example.

I’m an atheist — and a rather militant one. I find “God bless you” to be insulting and offensive in the extreme: it’s one of the most disgusting, appalling, and here’s the key word, hateful things that anyone could say to me.

But of course I’m well aware that those saying it are not attempting to insult or offend me. They’re trying to be nice. They have no idea how I feel about it, and because I’m a tolerant and nice person, my response is invariably “thank you”, accompanied by a smile.

But I’m still allowed to have my own perception of it…which I do. So because I consider that hate speech, should I ask for legislation to forbid it? Should I ask for the prosecution of those who say it?

I don’t think so. I think I should STFU and accept that the world is full of people whose concept of what is and isn’t hateful is so wildly divergent that it’s farsical to even pretend that speech may be classified into “hate speech” and “not hate speech”. It’s entirely subjective and varies tremendously based on who you are, where you are, and when you are. (In the Dixiecrat American south of the early 1960’s, “keep those niggers out of our schools” wasn’t hate speech: it was a ticket to elected office. Sure, now we perceive it as racist and mean and outrageous, but it wasn’t always so.)

I don’t support hate speech. I support speech. All of it, loving and kind, mean and spiteful, hilarious and boring, inclusive and xenophobic, tolerant and bigoted. Bring it on. All of it.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The only terrorism that can’t be criticized is Jewish terrorism.

I criticise it all the time. I call it Zionism though. I’ve no problem with Judaism or Jews themselves.

I despise lots of other forms of tribalism or nationalism too. I’m especially disgusted watching Muslims of one stripe killing Muslims of another stripe. It seems to be the order of the day, however.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just say the word “Terrorism” and suddenly they all start running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

You can’t defeat it cause it’s a nebulous term to inspire fear in the hopes of getting what it wants and France, you are just playing right into their hands.

Look, there’s some speech I REALLY don’t like. Like how people scream gays should burn in hell, that 9/11 was faked, vaccines cause autism, all brown people are evil, etc and I REALLY don’t like it…I will defend their right to say it cause when we start putting restrictions on free speech we start down a slippery slope and where do we draw the line?

Reminds me of a saying I read in HS: “I may not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s a Nut N’ Yahoo action in many ways. That video of French Jews singing La Marseillaise as he tries to guilt them into moving to Israel to make more illegal settlements is priceless.

The truth is that Israel is in trouble, it wants to define itself as “The” Jewish State, yet france and canada almost has more jewish people combined and a lot of dissenting Israelis are moving away to…Germany, the irony.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The Internet announces plans to tell France to fuck right off.

Creating liability beyond the parties actually responsible is just trying to make someone else clean up the mess. They can blame “the Internet” for all of the horrible things, not the intolerance they are breeding in their citizens.

In the rush to find someone to hold responsible and declare mission accomplished, perhaps it is time to take a good hard look at how this happened and how much hard work it will take to ACTUALLY work towards a real solution rather than a soundbite that seemed like a good idea at the time.

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