The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

Will a new law for ‘national security'  herald the introduction of Internet filtering in France?


Don't be fooled by the cute name - the LOPPSI (Loi d'Orientation et de Programmation pour la Sécurité Intérieure)  is a new French law for national security, which, among other things, seeks to introduce  filtering of the  Internet. The law has been debated this week in the French Parliament ( Assemblée Générale).  It will  initially require ISPs to block access to websites on a government-compiled list  for the  specific purpose of 'protecting children', but many commentators believe that the government plan to implement it more widely. 

 The critical provision in the LOPPSI was Article 4, which seeks to permit the blocking of websites deemed to contain child pornography. The Article has provoked

heated debate in the French Parliament, with the opposition highlighting how it will fail to deal with its stated objective,  and will instead open a back door for others who would like the Internet filtered.


According to an article in Le Monde, the opposition accused the government of ‘diabolisation' of the Internet, " because it is the only medium you cannot control" (Opposition Deputé Martine Billard, who also opposed the Hadopi law, quoted in Le Monde).

Le Monde reports that the government  did accept an amendment requiring a judicial endorsment  before blocks can be put in place. However, La Quadrature du Net reports that opposition amendments to make it a temporary ‘experimental' measure until the effect could be gauged,  were rejected.


 Liberation reports that the government has been trying to introduce a system of Internet filtering for the purpose of ‘protecting children' for some time. 

But much of the  commentary   believes that this is a ruse to introduce filtering for purposes such as copyright enforcement. 


Such  fears are far from unfounded, indeed they are validated by no less than President Sarkozy himself, who seems to have developed a habit of interfering in Internet legal matters.

In a speech on 7 January this year, President Sarkozy said that in addition to the 3-strikes /graduated response system which is now officially in place, "the Hadopi must develop more modern solutions to protect creative works, and to hold a vigil and permanent dialogue with the actors of the web.  The more we can  automatically de-pollute  the networks and the servers of all sources of piracy, the les it will be necessary to take measures against the Internet users. We must therefore experiment without delay with filtering measures."

Of course, the legally-challenged President may need to be reminded that mandatory Internet filtering would clearly be in breach of EU law, and he could be in for another confrontation with the new Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, Madame Reding.


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2009) French LOPPSI law threatens net filtering  , 9 February 2010 . 







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