France Responds to Paris Attacks by Rushing Through Internet Censorship Lawby Mike Masnick
Nov. 23, 2015
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The attacks in Paris were a horrible and tragic event -- and you can understand why people are angry and scared about it. But, as always, when politicians are angry and scared following a high-profile tragedy, they tend to legislate in dangerous ways. It appears that France is no exception. It has pushed through some kneejerk legislation that includes a plan to censor the internet. Specifically the Minister of the Interior will be given the power to block any website that is deemed to be "promoting terrorism or inciting terrorist acts." Of course, this seems ridiculous on many levels.
First, there are the basic concerns about free speech. Yes, I know this is France and it doesn't value free speech in the same way as the US, but it's still rather distressing just how quickly and easily the French government seems willing to adopt censorship measures. Second, what good does this actually do? If ISIS sympathizers are expressing their views publicly, doesn't that make it easier to track them and to find out what they're doing and saying? Isn't that what law enforcement should want? Focusing on censorship rather than tracking simply drives those conversations and efforts underground where they can still be used to influence people, but where it's much harder for government and law enforcement ot keep track of what's being said. It also only confirms to ISIS supporters that what they're saying must be so important and valuable if the government won't even let them say it. It's difficult to see how it does any good, and instead it opens up the possibility of widespread government censorship and the abuse of such a power.