France can now Block the Internet

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Internet blocked

Internet blockedThis week, the French government has just published a decree, which they having been trying to pass since July 2014, which gives them more power to control the internet, enabling them to shut down websites that it sees as dangerous.

It requires that internet providers block terrorist- and child pornography-related content within 24 hours of an official request.  There is no court order needed, administrators can now censor sites without any major legal barriers.  Reviews will be carried out quartely of these blocked websites, and if the offending material is removed then they could be unblocked.

Although I can see that this does have advantages in trying to get rid of the child pornography, it could also be used to curb free speech and change the political agenda, by blocking sites by accident or on purpose, as there will be no legal court oversight.

As you would expect, other civil liberty advocates are also worried where this is heading.  La Quadrature du Net is concerned that France is both circumventing the usual legal process and stifling free speech.  It’s also debatable whether or not the decree will be effective, since it’s easy for determined criminals to get around these restrictions through proxies and virtual private networks.

This is going to make thing awkward for the internet service providers, who will have to deal not only with these new proposals, whilst having to make sites responsible for hate speech and at the same time trying to serve their customers as well.

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