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France: Bill that would threaten online freedom continues its way through parliament

State control: With LOPPSI 2 due to come before the senate for its second reading on or soon after January 18, RSF reiterated its call for the elimination of article 4, under which the authorities would be empowered to filter and block pornographic and paedophile content without referring to a court.

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has expressed concern that the French government and parliament seem deaf to the concerns being voiced by civil society about a proposed domestic security law known as LOPPSI 2 and the threat it poses to online freedom of expression.

“Despite all the criticism from free speech groups and certain legislators and despite reports showing that Internet filtering systems are ineffective, this bill is advancing steadily without the major changes that are needed to protect online freedoms,” RSF said.

With LOPPSI 2 due to come before the senate for its second reading on or soon after January 18, RSF reiterated its call for the elimination of article 4, under which the authorities would be empowered to filter and block pornographic and paedophile content without referring to a court.

Ange Bleu, a French NGO that combats paedophilia, has itself said that LOPPSI 2 is using the protection of children “as a Trojan horse for generalized online filtering” and has described the proposed law as “ineffective,” “counter-productive” and “dangerous”.

RSF is also concerned about two other articles in the bill. There are no guarantees for the confidentiality of journalists’ sources in article 23, which would allow the police to use remotely-introduced spyware under an investigating judge’s supervision to obtain information from computers without the knowledge of those targeted.

And article 2, making identify theft punishable by imprisonment or a fine, poses a threat to the widespread use of pseudonyms and to the creation of profiles aimed at caricaturing or satirising well-known people (read more).

Adoption of this law would constitute a serious violation of the constitution, article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and French jurisprudence. In its June 2009 ruling on the Internet law known as Hadopi 1, the Constitutional Council said limiting Internet access restricts freedom of expression and therefore needs to be authorized by a judge.

RSF welcomed Socialist Party deputy Patrick Bloche’s announcement that he will refer LOPPSI 2 to the Constitutional Council.

Date posted: January 14, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 126