Political and Judicial Censorship of French Copwatch

Paris, October 14th, 2011 - The Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris has ordered the blocking of Copwatch Nord-Paris IDF, a website charged by the French government with defaming and putting at risk the safety of police officers.

"The Copwatch case shows that the blocking of websites, even if promoted in the name of legitimate pretexts such as fighting the dissemination of child abuse images or illegal gambling, is ultimately a tool for the political censorship of the Internet. This court order against Copwatch illustrates an obvious will by the French Government to control and censor citizens' new online public sphere.

A decision by a judicial authority is a meagre protection against the potential collateral damages of such a draconian measure on free speech, with the risk of over-blocking perfectly legitimate websites.

In practice, Minister of Interior Claude Guéant started an amazing viral marketing campaign for Copwatch. In France, few people had heard of it before, and now the website - which will remain available through dozens of trivial means of circumventing censorship - gained international attention and media coverage!", says Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.