Facebook To Start Handing User Info To French Government So It Can Start Punishing People For Being Stupid

from the terrorism-equations-DRINK! dept

In a move that’s indicative of the tech companies’ newfound willingness to roll over for overseas governments, Facebook will be handing user data to the French government to help it chase down people who’ve posted illegal words.

In a world first, Facebook has agreed to hand over the identification data of French users suspected of hate speech on its platform to judges, France’s minister for digital affairs Cedric O said on Tuesday.

France has criminalized hate speech, building on legislation that worked out oh so well in Germany. Facebook has already allowed French government censors to embed with the company’s moderation teams. Facebook.gov is no one’s idea of a better world, but there was always a chance French regulators might actually learn something from the experience: namely, that moderating content at scale isn’t easy and tends to cause collateral damage if performed the way multiple governments would prefer.

It appears little has been learned. Mark Zuckerberg’s recent meeting with France’s president may have little to with this, but Facebook has been historically cooperative with other demands from the French government. However, previous cooperation generally concerned terrorism investigations, not people engaging in criminalized ignorance.

The French government naturally seems pleased with Facebook’s decision to deliver hateful users into the hands of authorities.

“This is huge news, it means that the judicial process will be able to run normally,” O told Reuters in an interview. “It’s really very important, they’re only doing it for France.”

By “normally,” O means “efficiently.” Government efficiency is the enemy of rights and civil liberties. US companies are doing no favor for users around the world by speeding up dubious prosecutions of questionable laws. While it’s natural to curry favor with the only entities powerful enough to make Facebook pay attention. It’s not just about user bases. It’s about locking smaller competitors into restrictive compliance regimes that they may not be able to handle.

But this isn’t the only stupid thing going on here. Supporters of Facebook’s generous kowtowing are letting dumb fall right out of their mouths and onto the pages of Reuters.

“It is a strong signal in terms of regulation,” said Sonia Cisse, a counsel at law firm Linklaters, adding that it was a world first. “Hate speech is no longer considered part of freedom of speech, it’s now on the same level as terrorism.”

What the actual fuck. Ignorant people saying ignorant things is not even close to equivalent of violent acts that kill and maim people just because they don’t agree with the terrorists or, worse, just because they’re there. While I understand that France’s protections for speech are not on par with the First Amendment, equating hate speech with terrorism is stupid and will end up costing stupid people their freedom, even if they’ve done nothing more than let everyone else know how stupid they are.

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Comments on “Facebook To Start Handing User Info To French Government So It Can Start Punishing People For Being Stupid”

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46 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What's the problem?

I dont think anyone working for TD ever implied that people shouldn’t mock or criticis companies for terrible decisions.

I know it may be hard to understand, but saying someone should have a right, and then criticising them for using that right in a terrible fashion, its not contradictory.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What's the problem?

There really isn’t anything wrong with a company complying with the law of a nation it does business in provided they don’t also violate the laws of others. For example, giving the French asshats data on French citizens in accordance with their laws seems perfectly reasonable. But if the French asshats start demanding data on, for example, US citizens then we have a problem.

The danger is that this is exactly where this kind of policy change will head, i.e. the "slippery slope".

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: What's the problem?

"As long as they’re following the law, they’re a private company and can do what they want, right?"

Yes, just as we can say they’re making the wrong decision, and use competitors if we disagree with their choices.

Did you think that was clever, or are you just too dumb to realise this isn’t a change in stance for anybody?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

… As opposed to what? What crimes do you think people get thrown into prison for, under the hopes that they’ll receive hugs and puppies there?

Except for a very few places where rehabilitation has been adopted as a primary purpose of the criminal justice system, hatred of people who commit crimes is baked right in to every law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

So hate is a crime

Where are you getting that from?

but hate speech against things precieved to be hate is not?

Using the French definition, in order to be hate speech, it needs to be directed at someone because of: "an ethnicity, a nation, a race, a religion, a sex, a sexual orientation, or a gender identity or because they have a handicap."

So, if we’re using the French definition (since this article is about hate speech in France), then what "things perceived to be hate" would fall under any category that can have hate speech directed at it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

But that makes no sense, in the context of "hate crime," which is generally an enhancement of a different crime, based on the motive for that crime. Administering a beating to someone is assault and battery, regardless of why you do it. If it’s prosecuted as a hate crime, that’s just the prosecutor saying, "Hey, we’re punishing this action, which would have been a crime anyway, more harshly because of the underlying mental state required." And punishing a crime more harshly because of the underlying mental state required is nothing new; that’s why first-degree murder is punished more harshly than second-degree murder.

So, in terms of "hate crime," nothing new is being turned into a crime.

Now, "hate speech" would be an entirely different argument, and if "hate crime" weren’t in there, the meaning of the comment in question would be pretty clear. But, again, I don’t get what’s wrong with hating that a guy gets beaten up, or even especially hating that a person gets beaten up for no other reason than wearing a turban.

Anonymous Coward says:

France, despite its claims for "liberty equality fraternity", has a poor reputation at times when it comes to individual privacy from intrusive government. They were the ones who coerced TomTom to remove the photo radar locations from the map in the GPS units. They’re the ones who weakened the GSM mobile telephone specification to use deliberately poor encryption. I trust them about as far as I can throw them et ça, ce n’est pas loin de tout!

freedomfan (profile) says:

Sad that anyone would be so naive

they’re only doing it for France

This for all the eye-rolling lolz.

I wonder if Facebook ever even said they would only do this for France? That seems unlikely and, if true, seems likely to be true for a very short period of time. Why wouldn’t every government want to go after dissidents who posted something critical on Facebook†? And, when other governments do, on what basis will Facebook deny them?

† Aside from not acting like authoritarian scum, which doesn’t seem to be something most governments try very hard to avoid.

Anonymous Coward says:

The more charitable interpretation..

That final quote can be read another way.

Any online content "belonging to the category of" -ism can now be treated as if the same as the local, specific and "legally defined definition of" words you aren’t allowed to say.

Mu concern with that is how it will treat the entire bathtub as not the baby.

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