The French government, in a 171-151 vote last week, approved an “internal security” bill that permits government censorship of the internet, allowing officials without court order to blacklist websites, compel internet service providers to block websites and to get hosts to remove websites.
French legislators said they adopted the potentially Draconian measure — which deals with what one analyst terms a “ragbag” of security concerns, from identity theft to dangerous driving — to deal with child pornography sites. The new bill’s Fourth Article does state: “When the necessities of the fight against the distribution of images or representations of minors relative to the dispositions of article 227-23 of the Penal Code justify it, the administrative authority notifies the persons mentioned at 1[online access providers] of the Internet addresses to which these persons must at once block access to.”
Though the measure was touted as an anti-child porn law, its reach goes beyond government control to filter pedophile sites, granting officials the potential right to censor any internet content without judicial interference, advocates for internet access argue. Many are concerned that the far scope of this measure could lead to suppression of speech online, as occurred recently in Egypt, where authorities turned off internet access.