France Accused of Hijacking the Internet
Le Monde calls it a “chest with many drawers.” Civil rights activists and the parliamentary opposition are outraged, but the government is giving no quarter on its widely contested LOPPSI 2 law.
No matter that dubious Arab strongmen, now falling like dominoes around the southern shores of the Mediterranean, failed in their own recent Internet censorship efforts the French government is implacable about its widely criticised Loi d’Orientation et de Programmation pour la Performance de la Sécurité Intérieure (LOPPSI 2).
The clue of course lies in the portmanteau title.
Stefan Simons reporting for the German magazine Der Speigel says: “Internet controls are only part of the bundle … in LOPPSI 2. The various articles include a colourful batch of security measures developed by Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, a close ally of (President Nicolas) Sarkozy’s, who pushed through the first version of the security laws in 2002. The new package has been in the works since October 2007 and has, according to Hortefeux, been beefed up by 13 provisions … It is a hodgepodge of different measures, governing issues as disparate as courtroom procedures, traffic laws, defense, sport, integration and even questions regarding burial ordnances in New Caledonia (the French overseas territory)”
The trick of course, used by hardline interior/law and order ministers down the ages, is always to wrap the offensive stuff up in a large bundle of mundanities, rather like coating cod liver oil in lashings of sugar.
Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net which defends online freedom of expression says: “Control of the Internet is on the agenda of the upcoming G8 and G20 chaired by Nicolas Sarkozy, in the form of his “Civilized Internet” concept. In this context, it is extremely worrying to see Parliament imposing administrative filtering of the Internet. The same way the HADOPI turns artists into political tools and eludes the question of how creation can be funded in the digital age, blocking access to sites does not address in any way the problem of child pornography. With this vote, the Trojan horse of child protection opens the door to generalized censorship of the Internet. Citizens committed to defending the Internet and freedom must act and denounce this instrumentalization”.
Zimmerman added: “The National Assembly and the Senate have definitively adopted the ultra-securitarian LOPPSI bill, notably its 4th article which implements administrative filtering of the Internet in the guise of fighting online pedopornography…”
The Techdirt website suggests the new law “will turn France into the China of the west when it comes to Internet censorship and ISP secondary liability”.
As Der Speigel’s Stefan Simons notes: “LOPPSI 2 contains a number of other gifts to French security authorities, including improved integration between police files and personal data kept by, for example, banks. The goal, Hortefeux explains innocently, is that of “improving the daily security of French citizens.” Hortefeux says the laws will help to “maintain the level and quality of service provided by domestic security forces” … In addition to law enforcement tools for municipal police and private security companies, there is also a provision calling for a tripling of surveillance cameras in France — from 20,000 to 60,000 — by 2011″.
The Big Brother law was passed by both houses — Senate and National assembly on February 7. Here is the original draft legislation as placed before the ASSEMBLÉE NATIONALE (the lower house) and before amendments that flowed from debate in both houses of parliament.
Tougher measures were added to the draft at every reading in the house, according to Liberation which reported the government’s justification for the measure as follows: “Brice Hortefeux assure que «protéger les Français» nécessite «une mobilisation totale, générale et permanente».” The minister said it was designed to protect the French people and this required “total, widespread and permanent mobilisation”.
Whatever happened to the noble ideas underlying Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité?
Story: Ken Pottinger
Much opposition to the measure (more than 200,000 Google references) has been expressed in French media:
LOPPSI 2 : les dictateurs en ont rêvé, l’UMP l’a fait ! (Dictators dream of it the UMP does it) -Le Post
La loi LOPPSI 2 menace l’Open Data en France ! (Loppsi is a threat to open data in France) – Fondation iFRAP, a public policy think-tank.
La LOPPSI II , le cheval de Troie totalitaire ? ( LOPPSI II A Trojan Horse for totalitarianism) – Gilles Sainati an examining magistrate and Mediapart blogger.