The French government is not new to fighting Internet piracy. Three weeks ago, the French file-sharing site Liberty Land was shut down by law enforcement authorities and the three men who operated it were arrested. An anti-piracy law passed in 2010 promised steep fines or online bans for violators.
This trend, created to fight Internet piracy, is unlikely to reverse. France is not going to create laws to protect web anonymity and freedom of expression online. What is under discussion now is policing the Internet and blocking websites because of their “harmful” content.
The new proposed law is aimed at granting government officials the power to block access to websites. The bill may “give the French government the power to arbitrarily censor any content or service on the Net,” reports La Quadrature, a French citizen rights group, on PC INpact. The autorities can block any web content that “harms or otherwise puts at risk public order and security, the protection of minors, of public health, national defence, or physical persons.”
Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature, criticized the proposal. “This draft executive order aims to give the government a vastly disproportionate power to censor any website or content on the Internet,” said Zimmermann. “It is an obvious violation of the principle of separation of powers, and strongly harms freedom of communication online. This is an extremely disturbing draft, in direct continuity with the French government’s repressive Internet-related policies.”
Even if the bill was not passed, many people have already started to think how to bypass possible restrictions. Internet users are discussing on forums/Twitter what is going on in the world, why so many countries are considering to implement Internet censorship. People are looking at how to find the best VPN service or free web proxies to forget about restrictions of access to websites.