It was just a few weeks ago that Nicolas Sarkozy brought together a bunch of techies at the e-G8 to tell them that he wanted to start regulating the internet
much more seriously. Apparently, he's not wasting much time. There's a draft executive order making the rounds
that would give the French government wide latitude in censoring the internet throughout France. It really sounds quite similar to China's "Great Firewall."
To implement article 18 of the law for the Digital Economy of June 21th, 2004, the French government is proposing to give to several of its ministries the power to order the censorship of online content that harms or otherwise puts at risk public order and security, the protection of minors, of public health, national defence, or physical persons.
Clearly, the definition of these categories of content are both vague and overreaching. Such censorship measures – whether they consist in the removal or filtering of content – would be directly undertaken by the government, without any decision by a judicial authority. In practice, they would apply to all kinds of websites or online news services.
This isn't going to go over well.