Lock up your kids and lock down your PC’s
France yesterday put in its bid for an unlikely prize, becoming the first western country to make even Australia look liberal when it comes to state powers of internet censorship.
In the teeth of fierce opposition both inside and outside parliament, the National Assembly approved, by 312 votes to 214 against, a first reading of a bill on Internal Security – the quaintly titled “LOPPSI 2”.
LOPPSI – otherwise known as Loi d’Orientation et de Programmation pour la SÈcuritÈ IntÈrieure (pdf)- is a ragbag of measures designed to make France a safer place. Like similar UK legislation – most notably the various Criminal Justice acts brought in over the last decade – LOPPSI brings together a number of apparently unrelated proposals which would severely restrict individual rights in all walks of life.
Last week, for instance, the Assembly agreed to include within the new law a measure that would allow Prefects to sign off on a curfew for children aged under 13, out unaccompanied between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am.
The bill also includes measures that would increase police spend on “security”, create additional penalties for counterfeiting and ID theft, increase CCTV surveillance, and widen access to the Police DNA database.
However, it is in the online area that some of the most radical proposals are to be found, with the criminalisation of online ID theft, provision for the police to tap online connections in the course of investigations, and most controversially of all, allowing the state to order ISPs to block (filter) specific internet URLs according to ministerial diktat.
It has also been suggested that the state should have the right to plant covert trojans to monitor individual PC usage.
Whilst the latter measures are put forward on the grounds of child protection, critics have been quick to point out that, in the absence of any judicial oversight mechanism, this is a power just waiting to be abused.
Read moreInternet Censorship: France leapfrogs past Australia in Big Brother stakes