The French government can now force ISPs to block websites without a court order
France will now be able to force Internet service providers to block access to websites related to terrorism or child pornography without ever having to receive a court order.
ISPs will have to block access to offending websites within 24 hours of being told to do so. It's not clear how affected companies will be able to contest these government orders.
The Guardian reports that the list of blocked websites will be reviewed "quarterly" to see if the ban remains necessary. ISPs will also be reimbursed for the cost of blocking the sites.
Efforts to grant the French government the ability to control which websites are allowed inside the country accelerated after the shooting at Charlie Hebdo's office on January 7.
The government has also threatened to consider companies like Facebook and Google "accomplices" to hate-speech if they don't remove extremist content from their properties.
That's the unfortunate irony of the Charlie Hebdo attack: an effort to silence a magazine which has since become an idol for free speech has led France and the United Kingdom to propose or introduce laws that limit speech through direct censorship and intimidation.
Felix Trueger, a founding member of the La Quadrature du Net advocacy group, explained the contradictions inherent to these responses in a statement published on February 6:
With this decree establishing the administrative censorship for Internet content, France once again circumvents the judicial power, betraying the separation of powers in limiting what is the first freedom of all in a democracy -- freedom of speech. [...] The measure only gives the illusion that the State is acting for our safety, while going one step further in undermining fundamental rights online.There is an obvious difference between silencing or intimidating organizations with laws instead of guns. But the intended effect -- limiting free speech -- is largely the same.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]