The Socialist and Communist groups in the National Assembly and Senate yesterday challenged the constitutionality of a new domestic security law known as LOPPSI 2 by referring it to the Constitutional Council.
The two groups maintain that article 4, under which online content could be filtered, “does not provide sufficient guarantees against the possibility of arbitrary violations of freedom of expression.”
Reporters Without Borders shares their concern. Deputies and senators focussed above all on the security aspects when they discussed the law. The council should heed the free speech aspects when they consider the appeal.
La Quadrature du Net, which defends online free expression, has sent a memo on the subject to the council, which has a month to reach its decision.
French parliament definitely adopted LOPPSI 2
French parliament adopted the security law LOPPSI 2 on February 8, 2011, by 171 votes to 151.
Bill that would threaten online freedom continues its way through parliament
Reporters Without Borders is worried that the French government and parliament seem deaf to the concerns being voiced by civil society about a proposed domestic security law known as LOPPSI 2 and the threat it poses to online freedom of expression.
“Despite all the criticism from free speech groups and certain legislators and despite reports showing that Internet filtering systems are ineffective, this bill is advancing steadily without the major changes that are needed to protect online freedoms,” Reporters Without Borders said.
With LOPPSI 2 due to come before the senate for its second reading on or soon after 18 January, Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the elimination of article 4, under which the authorities would be empowered to filter and block pornographic and paedophile content without referring to a court.
Ange Bleu, a French NGO that combats paedophilia, has itself said that LOPPSI 2 is using the protection of children “as a Trojan horse for generalized online filtering” and has described the proposed law as “ineffective,” “counter-productive” and “dangerous”.
Reporters Without Borders is also concerned about two other articles in the bill. There are no guarantees for the confidentiality of journalists’ sources in article 23, which would allow the police to use remotely-introduced spyware under an investigating judge’s supervision to obtain information from computers without the knowledge of those targeted.
And article 2, making identify theft punishable by imprisonment or a fine, poses a threat to the widespread use of pseudonyms and to the creation of profiles aimed at caricaturing or satirising well-known people (read more).
Adoption of this law would constitute a serious violation of the constitution, article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and French jurisprudence. In its June 2009 ruling on the Internet law known as Hadopi 1, the Constitutional Council said limiting Internet access restricts freedom of expression and therefore needs to be authorized by a judge.
Reporters Without Borders welcomes Socialist Party deputy Patrick Bloche’s announcement that he will refer LOPPSI 2 to the Constitutional Council.