France soon to embrace internet censorship in all its misery

Is this move by Nicolas Sarkozy about protecting the children or cementing a base that loves the idea of the state intruding on our private business?

The lower house of the French parliament has approved a draft bill that will allow the state unprecedented control over the Internet. Although the government says it will improve security for ordinary citizens, civil rights activists are warning of a “new level” of censorship and surveillance.

For members of the French administration, it is a law against digital crime. For civil rights activists and politicians from opposition parties, it is a plan for censorship that excites fear and loathing — and even conjures up the specter of Big Brother and the surveillance state.

The lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, passed the first draft of the bill, known as “Loppsi 2,” on Tuesday. It will now go on for a second reading in the Senate, where it seems likely to pass, thanks to the government’s majority. If the Senate approves the bill, the new law could come into force as early as this summer. The legislation could have far-reaching consequences: Loppsi 2 contains rules that would make France the European country where the Internet is subject to the most censorship, regulation, control and surveillance.

The new legislation could in the future force Internet service providers (ISPs) to shut off access to criminal sites, should they be officially instructed to do so. According to the draft legislation, the law “makes it the responsibility of each Internet service provider to ensure that users don’t have access to unsuitable content.”

Under the new French legislation, police and security forces would be able to use clandestinely installed software, known in the jargon as a “Trojan horse,” to spy on private computers. Remote access to private computers would be made possible under the supervision of a judge.