Administrative Net Censorship adopted in France; Pedophiles unworried

Paris, December 15th 2010 - The French Parliament adopted article 4 of the LOPPSI law, which establishes the administrative filtering of the Net through the Trojan horse of "child protection". Such a scheme will allow for the generalised censorship of Internet content while doing nothing to stop pedophiles and child pornography. The rejection of judiciary supervision clearly illustrates the will of the executive branch to control the Internet.

The French Member of the Parliament finally yielded by allowing the government to practice Internet filtering without judicial oversight. In the absence of a means for citizens to control the conditions under which websites will be censored or a way to challenge the decisions, the executive will now be able to police the Internet without paying attention to fundamental rights. It is an extremely disturbing mood as administrative filtering can now be extended to other fields.

" It is very worrying to see Members of the French Parliament have given their approval to the administrative censorship of the Net just as the government is trying to ban WikiLeaks without fair trial. Nobody will be able to verify the way blocking measures are implemented, through a secret blacklist, and there will be no way of challenging them. Such a provision is a blatant violation of free speech -- in particular given the fact that perfectly legal websites can be collaterally blocked -- and it runs counter to the separation of powers", says Félix Tréguer, legal and policy analyst at La Quadrature du Net.

The filtering of child abuse websites is a feel-good policy passed at the expense of freedom of communication. Blocking won't prevent criminals to prosper by producing and disseminating child abuse content online1.

"The French government made the hypocritical and shameful choice of doing nothing to take down pedo-pornographic content online, while pretending to be protecting children. Just like the 'three strikes' HADOPI law didn't bring anything to artists and avoided the question of funding creation in the digital age, blocking access to Internet sites won't do anything to solve the problem of child pornography. With this vote, the Trojan horse of child protection opens the door to the generalized censorship of the Internet. The rejection by Parliament of any judicial oversight makes this very clear", concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.

Link to the procedure on the website on the French National Assembly

  • 1. Instead of instrumentalising the protection of children to make Net filtering appear legitimate, the government could have made the choice of boosting efforts aimed at taking down such offensive content from the servers hosting them. It could have also tried to improve international co-operation in this field, as suggested by the French association of information and prevention on pedophilia, l'Ange Bleu, who opposed Internet filtering measures. See: "LOPPSI : la protection de l'enfance, cheval de Troie du filtrage généralisé d'Internet ?(fr)"