French Government Declares Independence From Free Speech: Broad Internet Take-Down Powers Now In Place

from the storm-the-bastille dept

As its plan to completely shatter the support it received recently by attacking the very same concept of free speech its enemies declared war upon with terrorist attacks on a parody magazine not so many weeks back, the French government's ability to be laughable and simultaneously dangerous never ceases to amaze. What at once looked to be rather punctuated attacks on opinions and social media, and even cable news (which I consider a common enemy but for vastly different reasons) has now since devolved into the kind of massive overreaction against a third-party target that is, dare I say, quite American in nature. Apparently no longer content with the plan to police the ever-dangerous internet themselves, the French government has suddenly and, it must be conceded, shockingly announced that it now has veto power over the internet, requiring ISPs to censor sites at its whim. And, because cynicism is practically the secret sauce in these kinds of things, they've laced their claims of "combating terrorism" via censorship powers with a dash of "preventing child pornography" to boot.

A new decree that went into effect today allows the French government to block websites accused of promoting terrorism and publishing child pornography, without seeking a court order. Under the new rules, published last week by France's Ministry of the Interior, internet service providers (ISPs) must take down offending websites within 24 hours of receiving a government order. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says the decree is critical to combating terrorism, but civil rights groups say it gives the government dangerously broad powers to suppress free speech.

The decree implements two provisions from two laws — an anti-child pornography law passed in 2011 and an anti-terror law passed late last year. A department of the French national police will be responsible for identifying the sites to be blocked, with the suspected terror-related sites subject to review by an anti-terrorism branch. An administrator from the CNIL, France's independent data protection organization, will be charged with overseeing the process. Once a site is blocked, its page will be replaced with an explanation of why the government took it down. In the case of child pornography pages, the text will also include a recommendation to seek medical help.
Now, anyone reading this site already knows why anointing a government with these kinds of powers, whether by the excuse of child pornography or via the far more mangled conflation of speech and terrorism, is inherently problematic. We should simply be able to trot out examples of governments declaring non-offending sites as falling under these kinds of headings and rest our case. When we see France spiral into this kind of out of control fear-based tailspin, however (particularly after having gone through it ourselves to such a degree that we're still trying to dig ourselves out of it), we should find it conscripting us to fight against a stupid history that is attempting to repeat itself.

What this move relies upon, as do most attempts to censor speech on the internet, is a misguided fear of the seduction of internet-based communications. You can see this especially in the perhaps well-intentioned proponents of censorship when they speak.
Supporters of the measure say it's critical to preventing future attacks, pointing to the growing number of young French nationals who have joined jihadist movements in Iraq and Syria, as well as aggressive online propaganda campaigns from terrorist groups like ISIS.

"Today, 90 percent of those who swing toward terrorist activities within the European Union do so after visiting the internet," Cazneuves told reporters last week, after presenting the decree to French ministers. "We do not combat terrorism if we do not take measures to regulate the internet."
Just try to implement that mode of logic in any arena that doesn't involve the internet and see how far it gets you. You'll be laughed out of the conversation if you were to say, for instance, "A large percent of those committing terrorist acts within Europe attended a mosque before doing so. We do not combat terrorism if we do not regulate mosques." It misses the point entirely, of course, because it punishes what is largely the innocent while doing very little toactually combat terrorism. We might also find that terrorists largely wear silk, or listen to a certain type of music, or are part of any number of subsets of culture that we wouldn't dream of censoring, regulating, or placing under the watchful eye of a French government that has appeared all too happy to blame everyone for the failures of both their own security apparatus and civilization as a whole. But with the internet? That we'll censor, because the ruling class is still of an age that might find it scary enough to allow it to happen.

Add to this that the blocking attempt will be largely ineffective for those with the will to circumvent it and this essentially amounts to one part grandstanding and two parts setting up a precedent for government interference in speech in the future.
"In light of the recent arrests that have followed the Charlie Hebdo attacks — many of which are clearly overboard — I would say that France's government needs to seriously think about whether this law will stop terrorists, or merely chill speech," Jillian York, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said in an email to The Verge.

Others question the effectiveness of the measure. Felix Tréguer, of the French online rights group La Quadrature du Net, says the decree risks "over-blocking perfectly legal content," adding that the domain name system (DNS) blocking that it calls for can be easily circumvented. "The measure only gives the illusion that the State is acting for our safety," Tréguer said in a statement published today, "while going one step further in undermining fundamental rights online."
A small ruling class exerting control over the rights of the many in favor of its own power? Where have I heard this story before?

Filed Under: blocking orders, censorship, child porn, france, free speech, internet, takedowns, terrorism


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 2:27am

    The terroristic baguette

    Just add baguettes to your site and it's all well.

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  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:09am

    This will be funny...

    Since they absolutely know that "The Google" is the internet, they only have to block it and all will be well in their little world.

    Who knew that France and Spain would turn out to be allies in exile...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:13am

    "Today, 90 percent of those who swing toward terrorist activities within the European Union do so after visiting the internet,"

    Today 90% of those working ti implement a fascist world do so after being elected to office.

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    • identicon
      spodula, 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:39am

      Re:

      Yeah, but 90% of those who swing towards stamp collecting also do so after visiting the internet.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:16am

        Re: Re:

        Well my children were about 5 the first time they were on the internet (supervised of course), so I'm pretty sure at least 90% of what they decide will be after they have been on the internet...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      Dosen't this statement hold true for almost anthing in todats western society?

      "Today, 90 percent of those who does XXX within the European Union do so after visiting the internet."

      Regardelss of wether XXX is a productive, meaningful activety withing society or a vile, evil criminal activity?

      I mean face it, who does anything anymore without visiting the Internet first....

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:15am

    Vive la censure!

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

  • identicon
    AkaShadow, 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:24am

    So, are there a lot of terrorist web designers out there making evil gifs or something?

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  • icon
    Alphager (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:55am

    Absolute Free Speech is an American value

    And you are wrong for using your values to judge another culture with different values.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:00am

      Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      That was a good, clever laugh! Thanks.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:09am

      Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      Actually, it's a value shared by all sufficiently intelligent people everywhere. The inferior people who don't get it simply aren't worthy of any respect.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:16am

      How about 'No'?

      Free speech isn't an american value, it's a global ideal and goal, no matter where you are.

      If you see someone screwing something up, even if they might think they have good reasons, you are still fully justified in pointing out their mistake. Claiming that 'Well this is just how we do things here/have always done things' is not some magical block to criticism, no matter how much some people may wish it was.

      Free speech is an ideal that everyone, no matter the country, should strive for.

      Censorship is something that should be stamped out whenever it's found, as the proper response to offensive speech is not trying to silence the speaker(an act that always, always backfires), but more speech.

      France is utterly failing at upholding the first, and going nuts over the second, and they fully deserve to be called out on both.

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    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:57am

      Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      > Absolute Free Speech is an American value
      > And you are wrong for using your values to judge another
      > culture with different values.

      Invading France and murdering innocents is a Nazi value.

      And you are wrong for using your values to judge another culture with different values.

      (Oh, no, I just Godwined this thread)

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      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 11:44am

        Murdering innocents was not a National Socialist value.

        During the early twentieth century, this notion that there are good, superior people and bad, inferior people was a rampantly popular one. The National Socialist movement in Germany were just the first to get proactive about it.

        Remember that the final solution was considered merciful, since the original plan was to take all untermenchen or undesirables (including the entire captured Russian population) and work them to starvation / exhaustion in work camps. The gas chambers were regarded as a kinder alternative to death by starvation.

        Funny, looking at the Ferguson incident and the Randian Objectivism revival movement it seems we have the same better-people / worse-people notions today. (builders / moochers; makers / takers; good ol' folk / those sorts of people) We don't yet have our final solution here in the US or there in France, but both nations have their versions of der Judenfrage, the Jewish Question.

        So I suspect when we start annihilating our undesirables, the program will, too, be in the light of kindness. Because, say, holding them in our miserable impacted prison system is regarded by many (convicts, guards and civilians alike) to be a fate worse than death. Perhaps mass executions, a new bloody code era, would be a thing of mercy. No?

        Something to consider while we casually invoke the Third Reich.

        And you are wrong for using your values to judge another culture with different values.

        Really?

        Every single step from barbarianism towards civilization has been one towards social equality, whether the dissemination and distribution of power to a larger body, or the recognition of basic rights that are held even by the bottommost caste. We're still not very good at it, but if we apply the ethic of reciprocity it at least rationally makes sense to create as level a playing field as possible.

        If you're really a hardcore moral relativist, there's the consequentialist argument: social equality and the pursuit of such is what drives both revolutions to overthrow tyrants. (The promise of a more equal union is what makes a new order more attractive than an old order, given that it's too easy to put a new tyrant into power once an old tyrant has been ousted. A better future for the people is what legitimizes insurrection, making counter-insurgency efforts ultimately ineffective.) Social equality is also the mechanism that humans to overcome their instinctive xenophobia and to develop larger civilizations which are capable of dominating smaller ones, either through culture, economics or conquest. So regardless of what your culture says, movements towards social equality (racial relations, women's liberation, suffrage movements, et. al.) are in the best interest of whatever culture adopts them first.

        Also large civilizations make for complex infrastructure, which is nice for things like running water, electricity, internets and cell phone networks.

        This is a fairly big deal. The United Nations Charter of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention both list an expanding list of basic human rights that should be extended to the bottommost rung of peoples (typically displaced fugitives). As I said, we're not very good at this, and most of these rights aren't usually even afforded to a nation's own citizens, but we can at least agree that they should be applied no matter what the greedy elites of a nation might argue otherwise.

        So yeah, when women are forced to wear a burqa in public, or are not afforded the same educational opportunities as men or are not afforded the same career opportunities as men or are frequently culled and gang-raped or are hanged from the gallows on account of witchcraft, I can point to that and say that from the perspective of the world community, that is wrong, and that the culture as a whole will suffer for its tolerance of that kind of behavior.

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 12:17pm

          Re: Murdering innocents was not a National Socialist value.

          Funny, looking at the Ferguson incident and the Randian Objectivism revival movement it seems we have the same better-people / worse-people notions today. (builders / moochers; makers / takers; good ol' folk / those sorts of people)

          Perhaps it's even more powerful now because those inferior people choose to be that way.

          Because, say, holding them in our miserable impacted prison system is regarded by many (convicts, guards and civilians alike) to be a fate worse than death.

          My understanding is that almost all convicts, given a choice between life in prison and death, would choose life.

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          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 7:50pm

            Not sure if troll.

            Perhaps it's even more powerful now because those inferior people choose to be that way.

            Please explain. I take you're not saying that the less-than-minimum-wage waitress on food stamps, the Marine Corps family who is not allowed to apply for food stamps because it would make the Corps look bad or the family made homeless due to a string of bad circumstances (say, an auto accident making a commute impossible and costing the breadwinner her job) all chose to be in such positions, are you?

            My understanding is that almost all convicts, given a choice between life in prison and death, would choose life.

            Maybe. I'd be interested in where this survey was taken, how the question was phrased, and if it included the high numbers abused by the guards and / or other inmates, those denied medical treatment, those left and forgotten about in solitary or "the hole" and those denied judicial review by a system that doesn't care. Do you know where I can find the numbers?

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 9:08pm

              Re: Not sure if troll.

              Please explain.

              When the "other", the "inferior", was someone of a different race or from a different country, the "superior" person could look down on them, but not because of anything they did, just because of who they are. But if the "superior" people are superior because of their philosophy, or their work ethic, or something like that, then when they look down on the "inferior" people, they might be even more sure they're right, because they can tell themselves those "inferior" people have no excuse - they are that way because of choices they made, not because of how they were born or where they came from.

              It's falling out of fashion to hate someone because of his race, but it's still OK (at least in some circles) to hate someone because he's poor, or because he's liberal, or because he's conservative. Hope that made some sense.

              Do you know where I can find the numbers?

              No idea, sorry. One good metric would be what percentage of death penalty cases are appealed.

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              • icon
                Uriel-238 (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 10:31pm

                It made perfect sense.

                Yeah, it does seem that even when we are clear that certain kinds of scapegoating is wrong, we still look for someone to scapegoat. It's frustrating to me that we have to pursue social equality one. minority. group. at a time. Rather than being able to recognize that everyone's a weirdo to someone else, perhaps everyone else.

                Regarding Death Row, it is its own creepy thing that has very specific stressors on the inmates. But US prisons run a wide gamut of living Hells, whether from being impacted (as they are in California) or honed to an optimal profit margin as they are in Tennessee.

                And prisons outside of the US can get even worse.

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                • identicon
                  Pragmatic, 12 Feb 2015 @ 2:49am

                  Re: It made perfect sense.

                  The worst part of this is that philosophies are being rewritten, e.g. conservatism is no longer about promoting society but about stratifying it according to status.

                  So, want to be a good conservative? Repeat after me: the poor bring it on themselves and **** minorities. Women, make me a sammich!

                  Since I self-identify as conservative, I'm quite sickened by this. Also, I tend to get labeled as leftist even though I don't approve of state control of all the things. When did putting limits on how corporations screw us become a leftist value?

                  The idea of superiority by class or wealth is actually based on the Prosperity Gospel, the idea that if you're rich it's because God has rewarded you. So, it follows that if you're poor, it's the opposite, right?

                  I don't subscribe to that but it justifies a lot of the outright cruelty I'm seeing from the GOP. I just don't recognize them any more.

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    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:21am

      Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      "Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      And you are wrong for using your values to judge another culture with different values."

      It would be nice, before poisoning the comments with this kind of stupidity, if you would just learn your history. The outcome of the French Revolution, to which I linked, and to which the very "American value" you refer, are undeniably linked to the Declaration of Rights that France produced. That declaration said, among other things, that some rights are universal and not national, including...wait for it...free and open speech.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_the_Rights_of_Man_and_of_the_Citizen#Substance

      The truth is America owes a great deal to the French Revolution and to the enlightenment. It would be nice if you knew that, rather than spouting nonsense....

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:53am

        Re: Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

        You know, I found your assertion a bit strange, since it's been a while but I seemed to remember hearing that the French Revolution happened after the American revolution and drew upon its ideals.

        Then I read that Wikipedia article you just linked:

        The inspiration and content of the document emerged largely from the ideals of the American Revolution. The key drafts were prepared by Lafayette, working at times with his close friend Thomas Jefferson, who drew heavily upon The Virginia Declaration of Rights, drafted in May 1776 by George Mason (which was based in part on the English Bill of Rights 1689), as well as Jefferson's own drafts for the American Declaration of Independence.


        ...you were saying?

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:27am

          Re: Re: Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

          Yeah, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen was drafted in 1789. The US Declaration of Independence was of course written in 1776 and contains many of these ideas, and the US Constitution was written in 1787.

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        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

          Though it's true that some of the french Declaration was based on American ideas, that's because America was playing the role of a proving ground for new ideas that were coming from enlightenment thinkers in Europe.

          Let's not forget that the French are the ones who funded the American Revolution. They didn't do that just for kicks and then say "oh, hey, some of those ideas are god too" -- they did it because the ideas of freedom and equality were emerging from their own enlightenment culture and could be put into action in the new world a lot faster than they could in the old.

          So it would be more accurate to say that both revolutions were influenced by the politics/philosophy/culture of the enlightenment era (which itself had much of its roots in France) than to say that one was the direct precursor to the other. Indeed, even your quoted Wikipedia page continues:

          "The concepts in the Declaration come from the philosophical and political duties of the Enlightenment, such as individualism, the general will, the social contract as theorized by the French philosopher Rousseau, and the separation of powers espoused by the Baron de Montesquieu. As can be seen in the texts, the French declaration is heavily influenced by the political philosophy of the Enlightenment, by Enlightenment principles of human rights, and by the U.S. Declaration of Independence which preceded it (4 July 1776)."


          One thing's for sure: DH is absolutely right when he says America owes a great deal to France — the popular sneering & mocking attitude of Americans towards the French is baffling and unfounded.

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          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

            "the popular sneering & mocking attitude of Americans towards the French is baffling and unfounded."

            Indeed, which is why I find it particularly irritating.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 9:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

            It's because we don't eat enough baguettes.

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          • icon
            Dark Helmet (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 11:56am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

            "So it would be more accurate to say that both revolutions were influenced by the politics/philosophy/culture of the enlightenment era (which itself had much of its roots in France) than to say that one was the direct precursor to the other. Indeed, even your quoted Wikipedia page continues:"

            This is part of what I meant. It's worth noting that nowhere in my comment did I argue that the French Revolution led to the American revolution in a chronological way. In fact, if anything, the opposite is true.

            But that's not the case with respect to the transformation of the concept of universal rights and Free Speech. One of the reasons Jefferson was so invested in the French Revolution was because of the proving ground France represented for UNIVERSAL rights being snatched from a mainland monarchy. What could have been written off as an "American" thing, as the original comment did, suddenly became a global ideal once the French wrestled it for themselves.

            What was an isolated American thing became something much more during the French Revolution. It in fact solidified the aims the founding fathers established as something more than a rebellious colony playing at running a country.

            As I said before, know your fucking history.

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            • icon
              Mason Wheeler (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 6:23am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

              Yeah, I know enough history to remember what came immediately after the French revolutionaries were successful in overthrowing their mainland monarchy, and despite the high-minded rhetoric of the revolutionaries, what actually happened looked nothing like a successful implementation of American ideals of universal freedom.

              And I know enough history to know that what happened in France represents "the rule," and what happened in the USA was very much "the exception," when it comes to the aftermath of successful revolutions. I don't know exactly what the Founding Fathers did right, but what they accomplished just doesn't happen. Except it did, for them.

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    • identicon
      professional shill bot, 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:37am

      Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      this is not even a person
      it is clearly an algo

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:52am

      Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      There not such thing as American values when it come to human rights. Either a right is valid or its not.

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:47am

      Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      "Absolute Free Speech is an American value"

      It's really not. Three is a lot of prohibited speech in the US.

      "And you are wrong for using your values to judge another culture with different values."

      I disagree. It's entirely valid to look at another culture and say "according to my values, that culture is doing something wrong." That's called having an opinion, which remains legal for the time being.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 9:31am

      Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      Too bad we have lost parts of that absolute free speech.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:38pm

      Re: Absolute Free Speech is an American value

      And you are wrong for using your values to judge another culture with different values.
      That sounds like a veiled threat, expressing the same sort of ideas held by the CH killers. The French government has now, without a court order or giving you a chance to plead your case, added your name to the state terrorism list and stripped you of your right to post your opinions on the internet.

      Congratulations.

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  • icon
    Seegras (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:05am

    Vous n'êtes pas Charlie

    Évidemment, le gouvernement de la France n'est pas Charlie, lorse'quil committe trahison aux idéals de Charlie Hebdo.

    Rien à ajouter.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:22am

    Nobody gives a shit about this website.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:23am

    Techdirt is for pussies

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:36am

    think back to when this 'internet censorship' started, and what it was over. the whole start was because of the entertainment industries trying to stop from moving into the future. they have fought tooth and nail to try to stay in the pre-digital age when they had complete control over where, when, how and at what price their media would be allowed to be available to the people they totally rely on to stay in business. the ways they have put into operation in order to try to achieve what was wanted have become more aggressive and more ridiculous as time has advanced and they used the 'protect the children' from all sorts of pornography as the main reason to get websites blocked and then removed entirely. they were uninterested in any and all things that happened as a result of what they did and the effects are now coming more and more into view. many websites have been removed from the 'net unnecessarily, many people have lost their livelihood and some have even lost their lives. not being content with that, the industries have become even more aggressive, trying to get sites removed before they even get on to the net.
    the main side effect is now being felt. because of the way the industries managed to change the law from 'Innocent unless proven guilty' into 'guilty unless able to prove innocence' has meant that there have been very few, if any, attempts at fighting their demands in court. this obviously allowed the censorship to be carried out almost unchecked. with that lack of contesting in court, governments have now jumped on to the censorship wagon and they have also used the 'anti-porn' as one of or part of their censorship plan. what will happen now is the internet will become basically unusable over time, with governments implementing more and more censorship and even more industries and bodies demanding their own form of censorship be carried out. politics and religion are the two main contenders here, particularly when elections are approaching. the in-power government could get websites of potential rivals closed before they have time to get their points across, meaning less of a threat to the power in charge at the time. the other thing as well is the removal of people being able to talk to each other, arranging meetings and marches when a government has pissed the people off. add in the spying that is happening, not to prevent terrorism, it never has been and never will be about that. it has and always will be about controlling the people, the ordinary citizens and while doing this, turning every country into a cog of a giant corporate wheel, the one thing that has been tried countless times before, failed but never been closer to becoming a reality than it has today!

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:41am

    A new law is needed why again?

    A new decree that went into effect today allows the French government to block websites accused of promoting terrorism and publishing child pornography, without seeking a court order.

    Oh, right, because going to court to prove something is illegal is too much gorram work. Nope, if government person X says something is bad, that should be good enough for everyone.

    It's the strangest thing, it's almost as though they don't actually have enough evidence to have sites blocked or content removed, so they want to entirely skip the whole 'presenting evidence of illegal actions/content' step and just go straight to the 'Order ISP's to block the site' part.

    If something is illegal, then it would be easy enough to go to court, present their evidence, and have a site de-listed or have the specific offending content taken down as a result. The fact that they want to skip that step strongly suggests that they know what what they want blocked isn't actually illegal, and making it so officially would be too much hassle or create too much opposition, so they're trying to do so in a roundabout method instead of directly.

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:29am

      Re: A new law is needed why again?

      If something is illegal, then it would be easy enough to go to court, present their evidence, and have a site de-listed or have the specific offending content taken down as a result.

      I imagine their defense would be that that process would take too long. This content is too dangerous and must be taken down right now. And probably a lot of people would actually believe that.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:51am

    Context

    A little bit of context never hurt anybody.
    The French government, for all its faults, isn't trying to "get veto power over the internet." If you read the text of the decree, it simply refers to ISPs being asked to block access to a number of sites, the sites themselves being reviewed every three months. It's a Decree, which means it's essentially the application of a law or laws already passed by Parliament. Sites can only be blocked if they specifically contravene one or more named laws.
    I personally think this is counter-productive, but it has to be seen in the context, referred to in one of your quotations, of young French people traveling to Syria and Iraq. Some hundreds have already gone, and many are aged only 15-16. Quite a few are dead, disappeared or stuck in places like Turkey, afraid to come back because of fear of prosecution. A large proportion are girls, and a large proportion (by some estimates the majority) are also converts, from secular, Catholic or Jewish families.
    Among its various other options, some good, some less so, the government is trying to stop children leaving in the first place (there are no legal powers to stop minors leaving the country unless the parents go to court). There have been a number of high-profile cases where it's clear that young people, often looking for some vaguely humanitarian cause, have been recruited through internet sites to go to Syria and Iraq, often with bad consequences. There are some very sophisticated and professional sites put together by recruiters for groups like ISIS, some explicitly looking for combatants, others less so, and if you're going to comment on this issue you really should be aware of them. This is not a "free speech" issue.
    Whether it will work, I don't know, but it's worth bearing in mind that the target audience (15-18 year olds) may not have the degree of technical sophistication that readers of this blog have, and that, in practice, therefore, blocking websites in this way will probably have at least some effect in limiting the number of young people who leave the country. All the recorded cases I know of have involved browsing the internet at home, through the family ISP. I presume the government would argue in turn that preventing at least some young people leaving would justify blocking peoples' freedom to look at ISIS recruitment sites.
    The points about accidentally blocking legitimate sites, and the effect on freedom of access to information are fair enough, but the problem of young French people leaving the country to fight abroad are real enough also, and, more importantly, perhaps, have provoked a lot of public worry, especially from parents.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:37am

      Re: Context

      Right, quick question. You say the ones this action is supposed to 'help' are teens, 15-18. Now, I'm not sure if teens in France behave drastically different than those in the US or elsewhere, but in the US at least I know of no faster way to get a teenager to do something, watch something, or listen to something, than to try and tell them not to do it.

      In addition, a plan like this is actually worse than futile, as while it may manage to catch some of the more obvious 'recruitment' sites for terrorist groups, it won't be able to get them all, and the ones that remain will be able to play up the 'poor martyr' angle, claiming that the fact that the government is so desperate to silence them is proof that what they are speaking is the truth. After all, if they were wrong, would not the government, and their parents, be providing evidence of why they were wrong, instead of simply trying to bury their message?

      If the government, and parents, are worried about the children being recruited, either directly or through trickery, then the best way to handle that is not to try and block the speech that's meant to 'recruit' them, but to actually sit down and explain that the groups posting those things are very nasty individuals(presenting examples if needed), and explaining why it would be a bad idea to leave the country, either to join, or just 'help' in the affected areas.

      Teenagers have brains, and the best way to get through to them to to accept this fact, not continue to treat them as though they were idiots with nary a thought in their head and in need of 'guidance'.

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

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:58am

        Re: Re: Context

        Now, I'm not sure if teens in France behave drastically different than those in the US or elsewhere, but in the US at least I know of no faster way to get a teenager to do something, watch something, or listen to something, than to try and tell them not to do it.

        I'm not sure if teens in the US have gotten stupider since I was one, or if you're just spouting silly generalizations that have nothing to do with the truth, but... that's a silly generalization that has nothing to do with the truth. "Rebellious teen monsters" is a silly trope invented by the media, not some objective fact of human psychology.

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

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:03am

        Re: Re: Context

        Awesome reply. Have my insightful vote. Bury the thing is precisely the most stupid move.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 8:26am

        Re: Re: Context

        As far as I know, the sites that are being targeted are not hosted in France - it would be very strange if they were. They are multi-lingual sites hosted, so far as we know, in the Middle East. There's therefore no way in which they can be "taken down" as some here are suggesting. Rather, the idea is to have French ISPs block access to them. The sites concerned may or may not know they've been blocked in France, and no doubt other sites will complain about the blockages, but this is not the classic censorship-as-damage argument: these are highly professional sites, which set out arrangements for people to join various jihadist organisations, and put them in touch with recruiters. There aren't that many and you can't put one up in five minutes.
        Oh, and most adolescents I know wouldn't believe advice from their parents and schools: the psychological profile is generally of an estranged and stirred child who communicates very little and lives on the internet; I have no idea, to repeat, whether this will work or not, but I suppose it may do some good.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 10:00am

          Re: Re: Re: Context

          Go and look at what politicians define as being terrorist, as it include people protesting against laws they wish to introduce, especially if likely to raise enough protest to prevent them passing them.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:32am

      Re: Context

      It's a Decree, which means it's essentially the application of a law or laws already passed by Parliament. Sites can only be blocked if they specifically contravene one or more named laws.

      And who decides whether the blocked web sites actually violate those laws? Sounds like just executive agencies, which is a recipe for abuse.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 8:37am

        Re: Re: Context

        The French system is very legalistic, and according to the Decree it has to be taken by one. particular department in the National Police HQ, and by "specified individuals who have been properly trained." Almost certainly, government lawyers would have to clear each request, and sensitive ones would get looked at by Ministers. If an ISP thought it had been asked to block a site wrongly, it could always go the the administrative law courts, and ultimately the Conseil d'État, which frequently overrules the government. On security issues, that can be more complicated, but it does provide at least some protection. And don't forget that nobody is talking about closing sites down here, just blocking access to them. There's obviously scope for misuse of the Decree, especially given the vague wording of some of it, but then there always is in this area.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 8:52am

          Re: Re: Re: Context

          There's obviously scope for misuse of the Decree, especially given the vague wording of some of it, but then there always is in this area.

          Which is a great reason not to do it. :-)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:55am

    applies to everything

    Today, 90% of those who (insert any activity here), do so after visiting the Internet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:58am

    Today, 90 percent of those who swing toward terrorist activities within the European Union do so after visiting the European Union, SO either you accept that their logic is flawed and largely meaningless or you recognize the EU as a terrorist state and don't believe them anyway.

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

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:49am

      Our new meme

      Today, 90 percent of those who swing toward terrorist activities within the European Union do so after visiting the {bathroom}.

      We can have a lot of fun with this!

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

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:00am

    How long before this law is repurposed

    This law will be repurposed for copyright enforcement. Just argue that piracy == terrorism. A solid secondary argument is that since copyright == censorship the censorship law can be used as intended to fight piracy.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:08am

    Je suis [CENSORED]

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

  • identicon
    Giles Byles, 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:27am

    Comin' down Broadway

    Meanwhile, back in the USSA, regulation of the Internet under Title II will suck.  Its ultimate effect will be to muzzle the Mike Maznicks of the world.

    The meme "lawful content" gives the game away.

    The conversation should be about bits, not content.  A "free & open Internet" should mean that ALL the bits move to where they're supposed to go, unimpeded.  But a gov't. won't be able to resist the temptation to "regulate" the flow of certain of the bits through the toobz.  The censorship camel gets its snout under the tent via naughty words & boobz.  Then "controversial" sites start to go away.

    Nobody could see it comin' down Broadway
    So now we have to learn it the hard way

    (Headline clunker alert:  There is no hyphen in takedown.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 6:54am

    So now their giving themselves the power to censor sites, whats stopping them or those that follow the church of government from purposefully posting something they've defined as "extreme" in order to disappear a site with material that they've identified as valid but "problematic" argument against an action they've taken or plan to take

    I kinda wish their was a bet on that happening, coz im pretty fking sure id win

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:03am

    We do not combat terrorism if we do not take measures to regulate the internet."

    You mean control the internet

    i get the feeling that if 99.9% of any nation was against government, then 99.9% of a nation would be labelled terrorist

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:08am

    Whats happening is that the ---SYSTEM---- to censor sites will now be ----implemented----.......where there, for the sake of argument, were none before.........im sure the tyrants feel that a success on itself, hard to go back the way it was after that, once they've sowed the rotten seed

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

  • icon
    Stig Rudeholm (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:29am

    Ban dihydrogen monoxide now!

    Multiple studies show that 100% of all terrorists and pedophiles regularly ingest DHMO.

    Ban dihydrogen monoxide NOW!

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

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:34am

    Correlation

    "Today, 90 percent of those who swing toward terrorist activities within the European Union do so after visiting the internet,"

    That might be the worst case of conflating correlation and causation that I've ever seen.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2015 @ 5:43am

      Re: Correlation

      Actually, no. I suspect that the vast majority of non-internet sources, such as newspapers and TV, would actively discourage young people from volunteering to fight in Syria. They also present a very western-centric version of what's going on in the Middle East. And even if young people were radicalized by acquaintances (which does happen) the internet is the fundamental source for information on how to travel, where to go, who to contact etc. You wouldn't stop young people from being disaffected or radical, but you would somewhat reduce their chances of being able to do anything about it, not to mention getting killed. Part of the problem is that the French word "basculer" has been mistranslated as "swing" which is meaningless. What it really means is "actually become a jihadi", i.e. someone motivated, recruited and ready to go to fight in Syria. All the evidence (including from young people who returned, or were prevented from going) is indeed that the internet is the main thing that makes this possible.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 6:34am

        Re: Re: Correlation

        Actually, no.

        Actually, yes - unless there are other errors in translation. The fact that people who become radicalized also looked at jihadist web sites is a correlation, and he implied that there is causation.

        You wouldn't stop young people from being disaffected or radical, but you would somewhat reduce their chances of being able to do anything about it, not to mention getting killed.

        If what? You made it slightly less convenient to find these web sites? Because that's all you're going to be able to do.

        All the evidence (including from young people who returned, or were prevented from going) is indeed that the internet is the main thing that makes this possible.

        It makes contacting middle eastern terrorist groups easier. Even if you could prevent that (which you can't), the people angry enough to join up aren't going to just give up and live normal lives. That anger will find another outlet, such as domestic terrorism. So really, even if the situation is exactly as they believe, this censorship mechanism is both dangerous and ineffective. Which is probably true of just about any censorship mechanism, come to think of it.

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

  • identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, 10 Feb 2015 @ 8:40am

    "Today, 90 percent of those who swing toward terrorist activities within the European Union do so after breathing oxygen," Cazneuves told reporters last week, after presenting the decree to French ministers. "We do not combat terrorism if we do not take measures to regulate oxygen."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 9:29am

    Maybe this death spiral was the real reason the president didn't go to France for the marches and staged photo-op. It hit too close to home.

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 9:45am

    The cynic in me almost suspects they planned these terrorist attacks. Considering how much those corrupt few in the French government are benefitting from this.

    They certainly wasted no time having all these plans in place to suppress dissent and speech they don't like.

    Wonder what other police state esque plans and laws they will be passing in the next month

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 12:51pm

    Mad Libs / Cards Against Humanity

    Today, 90 percent of those who swing toward ____________________ within the European Union do so after ____________________


    This is totally a total meme. Totally.

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

  • icon
    Blaine (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 8:19pm

    Pronunciation question

    An administrator from the CNIL, France's independent data protection organization, will be charged with overseeing the process.


    How do you pronounce CNIL? I'm going with

    se·nile - ˈsēˌnīl,ˈsenīl
    adjective
    1. (of a person) having or showing the weaknesses or diseases of old age, especially a loss of mental faculties.
    "she couldn't cope with her senile husband"
    synonyms: doddering, doddery, decrepit, senescent, declining, infirm, feeble;

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

  • identicon
    no, 12 Feb 2015 @ 12:40pm

    "the French government's ability to be laughable and simultaneously dangerous never ceases to amaze."

    pff you re lame

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


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