updated 04:00 pm EST, Thu December 16, 2010
French law allows government to block sites
The French National Assembly on Wednesday approved a section of a bill that would allow the government to filter Internet sites blacklisted by the Ministry of the Interior. Section 4 of the Bill Loppsi 2 will allow this without judge or jury intervention and is meant to reduce child pornography sites and cybercrime. According to Le Point, many of the sites are hosted by countries abroad, and the Ministry of the Interior will send the blacklist to ISPs in order to block them.
Some critics of the system believe the approach may wrongfully finger innocent sites and, without legal recourse, will effectively be knocked offline. They believe the parties involved need to go after the creators of illegal pornography rather than just block their sites. The approach in extreme cases could also be used by unscrupulous politicians to ban political enemies like Wikileaks or otherwise dissenting opinions, although this isn't considered probable so far.
France has repeatedly claimed that it has a large piracy problem but has had little success through tougher laws, with a previously introduced three-strike law called Hadopi so far failing to curb downloads and instead pushing most committed downloaders to alternative methods. The law permanently disconnects users from the Internet after a third notice.