French Government Looking To Set Up The Great Firewall Of France?

from the gov't-censorship dept

We've seen our fair share of bad legal rulings come out of France over the years (remember when they declared Yahoo a war criminal? And, of course, we're all familiar with France's ridiculous three strikes "Hadopi" law, that will kick people off the internet based on accusations (not convictions), and which apparently doesn't apply to the government itself, which has been caught infringing on the intellectual property of others multiple times. But, apparently, that was all just the warmup for a law that will turn France into the China of the west when it comes to Internet censorship and ISP secondary liability.

Kevin Donovan points us to a report noting that a bill cruising through the French Parliament would massively increase state-backed internet censorship and surveillance with a bill called Loppsi 2. Beyond requiring ISPs to completely block access to a list of sites the government doesn't like, it would also:
"[make] it the responsibility of each Internet service provider to ensure that users don't have access to unsuitable content."
That's the kind of secondary liability for ISPs that is used in China to create the "Great Firewall" of censorship, and it's the same sort of thing that is currently being pushed in ACTA negotiations by certain parties as well.

But, that's not all. Loppsi 2 also would allow for massive government surveillance via trojan horse applications that would let the government spy on computer usage:
Police and security forces would be able to use clandestinely installed software, known in the jargon as a "Trojan horse," to spy on private computers. Remote access to private computers would be made possible under the supervision of a judge.
So why is France doing this? From the article linked above, the speculation is that it's a really base political ploy by president Nicolas Sarkozy, worried about his and his party's poll ratings, and looking to be seen as a "tough on crime" and "for the children" kind of candidate:
In the face of a rampant economic crisis, growing unemployment, a devastatingly large budget deficit and various political scandals, Sarkozy is pulling out a presidential trump card. He is hoping that fear of criminals will convince voters to come to the polling booths.

In that respect, there is no more suitable issue than child pornography on the Internet and the hunt for pedophile criminals whose only desire is to seduce innocents via their home computers. According to that argument, it is necessary to impose controls on the digital world and introduce state surveillance, so that a pro-active Big Brother can fight the cyber world's sexual deviants who are, in all likelihood, lurking on Facebook or Twitter.
Please tell me French citizens are smart enough not to fall for something like that. In other places, proposing such strict censorship and surveillance legislation has been known to backfire, and already it does look like Sarkozy's political opponents are screaming in protest over this. Taking away people's rights over a bogus "but think of the children" scare, seems like the kind of old school political tactics that hopefully will start to backfire more often than succeed as people realize that they're being lied to.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Hans B PUFAL (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    What can be done?

    As a French resident, though not a French citizen and therefore unable to vote, I am very concerned over these
    proposals.

    Any suggestions as to how I can help detour this legislation, or on a technical level detour the restrictions would be welcome.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Re: What can be done?

    One word:

    Linux

     

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  3.  
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    I HATE COMMIES, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:32am

    the govt is COMMUNIST

    damn commies
    so doing business in china has had the reverse affect
    instead of making the Chinese more democratic is its in fact turning our democracies into communist in the Chinese style

    sarkozy the communist

    start being loud that sarkozy is a communist

     

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  4.  
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    Wardster, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Great Firewall

    I would think that it would be the Great Maginot Line of France...

     

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  5.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:34am

    Re: What can be done?

    "Any suggestions as to how I can help detour this legislation, or on a technical level detour the restrictions would be welcome."

    Please, it's easy. All you have to do to completely undermine and nullify this attempted legislation is {content deleted at the request of the Consitutional Council of France].

    See? Problem solved!

     

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  6.  
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    Jimr (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:39am

    The Maginot Line

    France will have the The Maginot Line and like the physical wall it will hopefully provide the same protection.

     

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  7.  
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    ethorad (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:39am

    Re: What can be done?

    Move out of France?

     

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  8.  
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    Ben in TX (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:45am

    Smart citizens?

    French citizens aren't that much smarter than American citizens, are they? US voters fall for that crap all the time... I don't see why the French wouldn't.

    I would love it if I were mistaken, but I am a cynic.

     

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  9.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:48am

    Political suicide

    R.I.P. Sarkozy political career.

     

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  10.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:50am

    Re: Smart citizens?

    "French citizens aren't that much smarter than American citizens, are they?"

    They may be, but you'd never know it. The common French citizen appears to be focused mainly on cheese and what's for dinner.

    Huh, they're like a really skinny, fashionable version of Wisconsin. How strange....

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: What can be done?

    No doubt, your solution would be the same whether the question was "How do I treat athlete's foot?" or "What is the path to spiritual enlightenment?"

     

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  12.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:52am

    Re: What can be done?

    Explosives...

     

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  13.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:52am

    Truly a monument to stupidity....

    I realize that gross exploitation and endangerment of children is a great moral platform on which to build mechanisms of tyranny, but WOW. These guys are not pussy footing around like Australia... first pass and they want a trojan on every system in addition to mandated filtering???

    They are illustrating a tyrant's and hacker's paradise in Loppsi. I do hope the French can tear themselves away from their regular apathy towards government to stop this insanity early.

     

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  14.  
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    Chris Maresca (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:53am

    In typical French fashion...

    ... there will be a lot of bureaucracy and seemingly rigid controls, but in reality, everyone will know how to get around it.

    You see, it's a French game to avoid laws you don't like, I don't think this will be any different.

    Chris.

     

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  15.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:54am

    Re: Truly a monument to stupidity....

    Forgot the +1 to Jimr and Wardster for the Maginot Line reference.

     

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  16.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:56am

    Re: What can be done?

    Actually most is being proposed is Illegal under EU law. So dont expect it to get to far. In the short run you might see it implemented, slowly it will be struck down. Since this is not china but a free nation (kind of) expect secondary Liability to be lobbied against by every corporation it affects, expect the whole spying on citizens to be struck down, and expect the site blacklist to be ineffective (the internet routes around obstructions, the big problems of giving low level access of the internet - telecom system to the citizens).

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Re: What can be done?

    dude, I totally talk to my animal spirit with the latest kernel!

     

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  18.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: What can be done?

    agreed.

     

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  19.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re: What can be done?

    i see that happen with win and mac fanboys, so why the hell not?

    in this case Linux (or BSD) would be a reasonable way to keep and ensure your privacy. especially when their govt seems to be criminally retarded.

     

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  20.  
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    Atkray (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:02am

    Re; What can be done?

    Time to liberate France. Again.

     

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  21.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re; What can be done?

    when did it happen the first time? All i remember from (granted, american tinted)history was that the french just replaced one stupid monarch with one stupid emperor. wasn't too "liberating." more of a lateral, then backwards, move.

     

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  22.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re; What can be done?

    Well to be fair, their liberating emperor did go on to conquer damn near all of Europe. If you're going to trade tyrants, you might as well trade UP.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re; What can be done?

    I think he was referring to the liberation of France by Allied forces in both World War I and II.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re; What can be done?

    I think the parent post was referring to America liberating France during the World Wars.

     

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  25.  
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    dan, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:28am

    Huge market for encrypted services

    Oh man! I see huge market for encrypted services worldwide. Next boom in .com :)

     

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  26.  
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    Wisconsinite, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Smart citizens?

    Hey now!

    Just because we like cheese, and some of us look like cows doesn't mean we're like the French :p

     

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  27.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re; What can be done?

    I know, I was just going with the flow of the thread. The obvious can be so BORING.

     

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  28.  
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    Omar, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:34am

    Sarko the Waco... Mais c'eat de la merde.... He is turning France to China... Please anyone with the right to vote, kill this Legistlation at the door step of le palais de verseille.

     

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  29.  
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    Mr. Oizo, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:48am

    Re: Huge market for encrypted services

    .crypto ?

     

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  30.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re; What can be done?

    actually, i was thinking the French revolution then the subsequent (and short lived) First French Republic, followed closely by the First French Empire led by Emperor Napoleon the First.

    WWII is too easy. and besides, we didn't do much liberating then. We were all about the getting back at Hitler for that god awful mustache.

     

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  31.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re; What can be done?

    i agree with Free Capitalist: the obvious is boring.

     

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  32.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: What can be done?

    Well considering that the world's largest hardware vendors have a hell of a time keeping their hardware working with Linux by providing native drivers ... I doubt the French programmers are going to worry about creating Windows, Mac AND Linux versions of their trojan horse. So, in essence to a large part of the surveillance issue Linux is a very valid answer.

    And Ubuntu totally cleared away this bad case of athlete's foot I got last month. Worked like a charm!¡

     

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  33.  
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    cybearDJM, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:38pm

    Big Brother strikes back...

    Hello from France,
    Well, the law's not cruising around anymore... it was adopted by the French Lower House and passed 312 vs 214...
    France is fighting hard to be worse than Australia ;-)
    The main problem is the request to control the internet through ISPs : pornography/pedophilia 1st, and then all forms of content (such as music, videos...) as our "little emperor" wants to be seen as the protector of the Arts...

    I have to quit now... Big Brother is watching us...

    DJM

     

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  34.  
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    chris (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What can be done?

    dude, I totally talk to my animal spirit with the latest kernel!

    me too! mine's a dolphin!

     

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  35.  
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    chris (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    Re: The Maginot Line

    France will have the The Maginot Line and like the physical wall it will hopefully provide the same protection.

    touché!

     

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  36.  
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    DonRico, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:57pm

    We ARE fighting

    Hi Mike, I'm glad you mention Hadopi and Loppsi in TechDirt. We need more coverage because French media don't do their job. Most of the French don't even know about these laws simply because they don't hear about them in the news. Fortunately, a bunch of law savvy Internet users and free software enthusiasts are making a fuss and fighting against theses bills. Here are some of the main groups or websites working their ass off to inform people, defend freedom and net neutrality : http://www.laquadrature.net/ http://www.april.org/ http://blog.fdn.fr/category/NEUTRALITE-DU-NET http://fr.readwriteweb.com/tag/acta/ http://www.framablog.org/index.php/tag/Hadopi

     

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  37.  
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    anon, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    France ≠ liberty

    > Please tell me French citizens are smart enough not to fall for something like that.
    Being a french citizen myself, I disagree with this.
    Normal people just watch TF1 (french equivalent of Fox news) and don't really care about anything.
    But other people like me do care about that (see DonRico message for that).

    I have to say that the medias are quite silent when it comes to dirty laws…

     

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  38.  
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    Chargone (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:28pm

    Re: the govt is COMMUNIST

    Not that China is exactly communist these days either...

     

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  39.  
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    Nina Paley, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:28pm

    worse laws = greater resistance

    The only good thing I can see about France's godawful culture laws - possibly the worst in the "Western World" - are that they're spawning a lively resistance movement in that country. I was quite heartened at the French Free Culture events I attended last year. They seem to have a much clearer and better vision of Free Culture there than in the US, actually distinguishing between free and un-free CC licenses. Vive la Resistance!

     

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  40.  
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    Josef, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    It works in the US

    I'm surprised the French didn't just use "The Terrorists are on the Internet"

    It's worked in the US for a decade now. Any time you want to use take away or just stomp on the rights of the citizens, you just claim that terrorism will win if those rights aren't revoked or ignored.

    It's still going strong. The French should be learning more from the US.

     

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  41.  
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    Nina Paley (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Copier n'est pas Voler

    From my friend Taro: "Copying Is Not Theft" in French!

    This is possibly the best soundtrack for the video yet made. And it's French!

     

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  42.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Re: France � liberty

    I have to say that the medias are quite silent when it comes to dirty laws…


    We have the same vacuums in our major media in the US.

    Bon Chance

     

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  43.  
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    Bob, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Truly a monument to stupidity....

    This is not a trojan as specified in this paper, but a usb key put on your computer while you are not at home. It is believed to act as an keylogger. So it would work on all OSes, and register even pass for encrypted disk.

     

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  44.  
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    Bob, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Smart citizens?

    The problem is not that we (French people) are stupid or not, the problem is that the French parlement and the people voting for ruling party are mainly old people, who know next to nothing about the Internet. Just need good old FUD to do the job : pedo, negationnism, nazism, (local) terrorism, children exchanging nude pic through network, alcohol and tobacco advertisement, money games online, racism, homophobia…
    They don't even understand that the censorhip they want will cost a lot of money (due to the framework of the french network) and will be easily bypassed.

     

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  45.  
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    Bob, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:59pm

    Re:

    Well Sarkozy is in place until 2012. Same for the Parliement, which is controlled by the ruling party. So the only way to stop this would be to seize the Constitutionnal Court, but I don't even think this would work.

     

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  46.  
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    Gilles Misrahi, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    We have a big big problem in here

    Thank you to speak about it in Techdirt.

     

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  47.  
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    An Onnymouse Co-word, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: What can be done?

    Move out of your foot? Get rid of your spirit?

    I don't see what you did there.

     

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  48.  
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    mistyrouge, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:20pm

    Re: What can be done?

    Hello all! As I am a french citizen and resident I will try to answer your comments in order to explain you how the situation is in france and why it's far worst than you imagine.

    Well for the trojan linux is a good solution as our governement seamed to have never heard about it (we still use windows nt for our navy...).

    In order to detour the firewall you just have to use tor and even easier a encrypted foreign proxy connexion. They will not filter this kind of traffic.

     

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  49.  
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    mistyrouge, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:24pm

    Re: the govt is COMMUNIST

    Here in France it is not really an insult to be communist. For sure France is not a communist country but our conservative party is very similar to the USA's democratic one.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Great Firewall

    " would think that it would be the Great Maginot Line of France..."

    But the Maginot Line fell like a paper fence in WW2

     

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  51.  
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    mistyrouge, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:26pm

    Re: The Maginot Line

    I hope you're right but a vast majority of people fear the technology in france.

     

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  52.  
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    mistyrouge, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Political suicide

    We will know it in about a month and I hope you'll guess right

     

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  53.  
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    mistyrouge, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Truly a monument to stupidity....

    "I do hope the French can tear themselves away from their regular apathy towards government to stop this insanity early."

    It's a shame but we can't !

    The main reason is that only people that look for informations specialised web sites are aware of the details of those laws (dadvsi, hadopi, loppsi2). The main TV channels just told that the laws were woted without explaining what were those laws. Moreover they are lying. For example the main channel (TF1) show images of the whole parliament voting those law whereas there were not that much people (less than 30 persons for hadopi). That's why the average french citizen doesn't even know our governement is setting up a firewall.

     

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  54.  
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    mistyrouge, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re; What can be done?

    Napoléon Bonaparte alias Napoléon the first is one of Sarkozy unoffical nicknames

     

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  55.  
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    mistyrouge, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:46pm

    Re: It works in the US

    It's easier and more efficient to use child pornography as we didn't have to deal with terrorism for a while in france

     

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  56.  
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    DanVan (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 4:53pm

    I am actually quite glad to see this

    I am happy because French people will now be forced to find ways around this and thus give us Americans a blueprint on what to do if any such laws come over here

     

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  57.  
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    LT, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 5:59pm

    Reality Check

    France is the least of your problems:

    No PAY ATTENTION!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch#v=tcz_NHAFGS0&feature=related

     

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  58.  
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    Louis (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:30pm

    Biggest boom for Pedophiles!

    This will be the biggest bonanza for all kind of pedophiles. With all those computers infected with the trojan hourse software, how long before the "criminal element" finds a way to take control of those webcams and tape all those kids with computers in their rooms? Just think, how many times have you accessed your computer while not fully dressed? What if someone could watch and tape all those times you were less than pristine? Now, just think about teenagers, and what they do in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Something tells me that the supply market of kiddy porn from France will just explode.

     

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  59.  
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    Dave, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 1:22am

    Re: In typical French fashion...

    Agreed Chris.. Avoiding laws and finding workarounds is a typicall French sport. Should that stupid Loppsi thing be voted, we'll all spend whatever time it takes to break it, and will post those workarounds on all blogs and forums!

    @Dark Helmet : dont worry, not only do we have cheese and wine, but history shows we also have a brain and know how to use it..

     

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  60.  
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    leo, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    checking from France

    Hi, French here. As sad as it is, I don't see this law not passing, because you know IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN so really few people will disagree with it. S even if we vote for new people to be elected, this law might very well stay...

    The thing is, as far as I've heard, it's really only for criminal purpose, and only pedopornographic content would be blocked. What most people (including me) fear is that once the filtering is made possible, the govt wil use it to block more and more things they don't like.

    As for the trojan part, it seems that it's only when you already have a police investigation on you, they can come to your home to install it. So it will concern only a very small population. Of course again, the risks of abuse are worrying...

     

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  61.  
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    ROLLO THE BSA, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: What can be done?

    no the french is switching tol inux

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    can you guys please stop comparing sarkozy to Big Brother? First, he's not big, he's a dwarf. He may seem just under average, but take off his shoes....
    Second, Big Brother had some brains put into his plans (rather evil, tyrannical ones, but smart nonetheless)....

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 1:00pm

    about the trojan horse.. they don't tell you or come to your home to install it. everything is done without the knowledge of the user... Isn't that great?

     

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  64.  
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    Dan Lord, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    Government Stealth

    A government using stealth remote access to spy on its citizens? I can understand this in a corporate environment but this seems like a blatant violation of civil liberties.

     

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  65.  
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    Frederic, Apr 6th, 2011 @ 8:08pm

    It's done!

    Paris, March 10th, 2011 The French Constitutional Council has released its decision1 regarding the LOPPSI bill. Judges held that article 4 of the bill, which allows the executive branch to censor the Net under the pretext of fighting child pornography, is not contrary to the Constitution. In doing so, the constitutional court has failed to protect fundamental freedoms on the Internet, and in particular freedom of expression. Hopes lie now in European institutions, which are the only ones with the power to prohibit or at least supervise administrative website blocking and its inherent risks of abuse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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