French plod can BAN access to any website – NO court order needed will pay for child abuse, terrorist sites to be shuttered

The French government wants to block terrorist and child porn websites so badly that it'll even pay for the privilege.

A new implementation of last year’s Terrorism Act (effectively a new decree extending the scope of the existing law) will force internet service providers to block websites within 24 hours if ordered to do so by the police – with no court order required.

However, in a sweetener to the ISPs that might well complain about the “burden” of doing so, the law promises that any costs incurred will be reimbursed.

The stick for non-compliance is a pretty big one – a year in jail and a €75,000 fine. Yet that hasn’t deterred one local access provider, Illico in Corrèze, central France, from rebelling. The body says it will refuse any blocking requests.

Civil liberties groups and open internet advocates are also up in arms.

“The measure only gives the illusion that the state is acting for our safety, while going one step further in undermining fundamental rights online," said Felix Tréguer, founding member of digital rights group La Quadrature du Net. "We must get it overturned."

He added that blocking is ineffective since it is easily circumvented, as well as disproportionate because of the risk of blocking perfectly lawful content.

The law states that the whole website must be blocked, not just the offending illegal item. Tréguer claims that this type of DNS blocking is the most prone to overblocking.

Under the law, which came into force on Monday, with the decision that the police be allowed to issue these notices only taken last week, specially designated agents from the police's tech crime directorate (the catchily-titled L’Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalité liée aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication, or OCLCTIC) will be able to order the blocking without providing specific evidence of wrongdoing or illegal content.

Those attempting to access the blocked content will be directed to an information page from the Interior Ministry. ®

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