France Forcing ISPs to Block CP

Bob Johnson

PARIS — A new decree by the French government is forcing ISPs to block websites that host child pornography within 24 hours of notification.

The French National Police and the government can now submit the requests directly to the ISPs under the new rules. The providers however, are allowed to ask the government to reimburse costs related to the takedowns.

Although the blocked sites' addresses will be active, a warning page will appear explaining why the site was shut down.

The new initiative has been under consideration since last summer, however the recent Charlie Hebdo terrorist massacre has reportedly ignited new concern over the debate between free speech and national security.

Along with the child porn crackdown, the country is beefing up its antiterrorism efforts, asking help from search engine giant Google as well as Facebook for monitoring terrorism-related content on their services.

But French anti-digital censorship organization La Quadrature du Net, protested the action maintaining that the new rules are a blow against freedom of speech and won't stem terrorism. The group said it would fight the new rules in court.

“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,” founding member Felix Tréguer said in a statement.

He added, “Website blocking is ineffective since it is easily circumvented. It is also disproportionate because of the risk of over-blocking perfectly lawful content, especially with the blocking technique retained by the Government. The measure only gives the illusion that the State is acting for our safety, while going one step further in undermining fundamental rights online.”