From now on, any person who habitually consults Web sites that advocate terrorism or that call for hatred and violence will be criminally punished.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a campaign rally in Eastern France proposes criminal penalties for citizens who visit Web sites that advocate hate or violence. He spoke in the aftermath of the murders of seven people by an Al Qaeda inspired gunman.
Electronic Frontier Foundation, French President Sarkozy Sees Opportunity for Censorship, Seizes It.
As the EFF notes, there are serious issues the proposal, among them: who defines hate speech; it hasn’t been shown that “criminalizing access to hate speech or terrorist content will end the very real problems of hate crime and terrorism”; and once a criminalization regime takes place it’s a very small step to censorship and “overblocking”.
When a democratic country such as France decides to censor or criminalize speech, it is not just the French that suffer, but the world, as authoritarian regimes are given easy justification for their own censorship. We [the EFF] urge French authorities to judge crime on action, not expression.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Lucie Morillon of Reporters Without Borders wonders whether Sarkozy proposes a full-fledged Internet surveillance system in France.
Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition?
This would be a distortion of competition. If we allow Facebook and Twitter to be cited on air, it’s opening a Pandora’s Box — other social networks will complain to us saying, ‘why not us?’
Spokesperson for France’s television regulatory commission discussing the country’s enforcement of a 1992 law that will prevent television and radio stations from actively mentioning Facebook and Twitter unless the story being reported is specifically about those companies.
What does that mean? That broadcasters can’t say things like, “Follow us on Twitter,” or “Join us on Facebook,” followed by the URL.
As ZDNet reports, “The ban stems from a decree issued by the French government on March 27, 1992, which forbids the promotion of commercial enterprises on news programs.”
“All journalists knew he had a special behavior with women,” said Marion Van Renterghem, a reporter for Le Monde. “I was not so much surprised because I knew that he had this vice, but it was flabbergasting because why did all we journalists, considering what we knew about him — why did we never write a line about this?”
She added: “There is this very strong tradition in France that you don’t have here, in Anglo-Saxon countries, is not to speak about private life. This is very, very sacred, so we are all embarrassed to talk about and to write about these things.