Illegal Downloaders Face Internet Ban in France

PARIS — A bill has passed France's lower house of parliament that would cut off Internet access to surfers who download illegally.

About 1,000 French Internet users a day could be taken offline under the bill. Surfers who ignore email warnings and a registered letter could see their online connections suspended for up to a year, and they could also face up to $ 435,000 in fines or jail time.

The Senate approved a compromise version of a more robust bill in July, and the National Assembly followed suit Tuesday, with a 285-225 vote. The bill must clear at least one more vote to become law.

With the legislation, French Internet subscribers would be asked to install special software to enable authorities to track down and identify those suspected of illegal downloads.

The law is expected to start being enforced by the end of the year.