Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

France

I wrote this in 2008 when this website was first set up and I was in my early days of researching this policy. In 2022, it seems little has changed. Policy is still trying to use mass surveillance to enforce against users. The arguments are similar. The difference is the scale. 

Way back in 2008, the French government brought in a law  for measures to enforce copyright, which was officially called the Creation and Internet law, but colloquially  referred to as the Hadopi law ( loi Hadopi), and which was dubbed "3 strikes and you're out!"  The idea was that warnings would be sent to thousands of users accused of copyright infringement (delivered by ISPs to their customers on behalf of the copyright owners) and penalties would include termination of Internet access. The proposals were first put forward  by the 'Mission Olivennes', and commission headed by Denis Olivennes, former head of the French retail chain called the Fnac. The law passed through the French Parliament in 2009.

The Hadop was actually a government body charged with supervising the law.  It was mandating changes to computer security software which effectively entail  mass surveillance of Internet users. Those behind the measures were entertainment and music companies who own large libraries of copyright material. They sought to use online surveillance to look for users alleged to be downloading files without payment or permission.

My paper The French law on Creation and Internet – using contract law to squash file-sharing is available here.

If you like the articles in this section and you are interested in  copyright enforcement policy and what happened to the Hadopi law, you may like my books A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms and The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the ‘Telecoms Package’

You may also  like my book The Closing of the Net which positions the story of the Hadopi law in the wider policy context.

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The Creation and Internet law - also known as the Hadopi law - which proposes to bring in  graduated response /3 strikes  measures to enforce copyright, goes to the French Parliament - Assemblee Nationale - this week.

The debate was due to begin on 10 March, according to the Assemblee Nationale agenda. However, a debate on hospitals took priority. The Creation and Internet law debate  is now expected to begin this evening (11 March). 

The Assemblee Nationale  website is here.

It looks like it will be available to view via a webstream. The webstream should be here

Note, this is a postponement from the previously reported date of 4 March. 

France's Minister of Culture Christine Albanel, wants public wifi hotspots to use a State-approved whitelist of websites. Like the white witch of Narnia, is she condemning her country to a hundred years of cyber-winter?

 

Reports in the French media say that Christine Albanel, the Minister of culture who is responsible for the graduated response,  Hadopi law , intends to make public access wifi services use whitelists  is  as a means of stopping people downloading copyrighted content. So desperate is she, that not one song or movie should be freely downloaded, that she wants to lock out the millions of businesses who have invested in e-commerce or promotional  sites, as well as other media sites and blogs which contribute to the Information Society. She wants to bring down ‘a white portcullis'  - medieval security for the 21st century.

Her comments were reported on the French website PC Inpact , which has also got hold of the original report that briefed Mme Albanel . It also isn't clear just what wifi will have to implement the whitelist, whether it is just very large public ones, or private residential - which would mean a large majority of broadband users.

Her plan has been criticised by citizens groups as a ‘return to a state'controlled network'. 

It made me think of a character in the CS Lewis stories, the Chronicles of Narnia - the white witch, who condemned the land to a hundred years of winter. If she pursues the white list idea, then Mme Albanel, like the white witch, will condemn France to a long cyber-winter.

 

Sadly, this is not an extreme view, but a logical consequence. Whitelists are the opposite of blacklists. Whitelists contain what is permitted. Blacklists contain what is not permitted. So a whitelist will be a list of government-approved websites. Given the sheer scale of the Internet inside and outside France, the list will by necessity, only contain a small number of the total number of websites that exist.

Mme Albanel says

Read more: France's wifi whitelists - un mort gradue for the Internet

The European Commission has asked the French government to clarify a number of points in respect of its Creation and Internet law, which will impose graduated response / 3 strikes measures onto Internet users.

The Commission’s requests have been made public in what appears to be a leaked document, published by the French news website La Tribune. In particular, it has asked for clarification on internal market and fundamental rights issues. It wants the information before the law is adopted,  and therefore appears to be asking France for a  temporary halt on the process until these matters are clarified:

"Les autorités françaises sont invitées à prendre en considération les remarques qui précédent ainsi qu'à fournir les clarifications demandées avant de procéder à l'adoption de leur projet notifié"

Interestingly, the Commission also confirms that the ‘fight against piracy’ and ‘co-operation’ between telecoms operators and rights holders for this purpose, is being discussed currently in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers – in the context of the Telecoms Package review. This is an admission from the Commission which its PR material seeks to gloss over. And the Commission calls for a balanced approach in the handling of filtering measures in the Universal Services directive.

Specific matters on which

Read more: EU presses the pause button on HADOPI law

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States v the 'Net? 

Read The Closing of the Net, by me, Monica Horten.

"original and valuable"  Times higher Education

" essential read for anyone interested in understanding the forces at play behind the web." ITSecurity.co.uk

Find out more about the book here  The Closing of the Net

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

Iptegrity in brief

 

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing. I am on the Advisory Council of the Open Rights Group.  I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. For more, see About Iptegrity

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The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review


 

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