Christine Treguier on Mon, 27 Mar 2000 17:41:00 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> News from France


Last year, the french internauts went into actions to defend AlternB and
Valentin Lacambre who was sued for different web sites hosted on his
machines. An amendment of the audiovisual law proposed by PS deputy Patrick
Bloche, saying that providers were not responsible for the contents in
place of the authors, finally stopped the judiciary harassment.

This audiovisual law is under discussion again since december. On january
19 the senate rewrote Bloche amendment (Art 43-6-4), emptying it from its
substance. Senators decided that the hosting server should give the
authors' identities to ANY interested party asking for it. If not, they
would risk 50 000F and a 6 months jail penalty.

On march 22, the law went in second lecture before the national assembly
which added another chapter to the story.

----- The new proposed Art 43-6-4 says :

On line services other than private correspondance,are submitted to an
obligation of identification which can direct or undirect. Every person
whose activity is to publish an online service other than private
correspondance has to make publicly available the following elements : - if
not a moral personnality, the name, second name, and adress of the physical
persons owners or co-owners (of the datas) - if a moral personnality, its
denomination and registered offices

- the name of the publishing director or editor in chief.

Every person who is not professionnaly publishing, can make publicly
available only their pseudo and the name of the provider in charge of
hosting theirs datas. In that case, they must therefore communicate the
above mentionned identity elements to the provider. The fact of mentionning
false informations is punished with a 50 000F fine and 6 months jail

Moral entities can be declared legally responsible under the conditions of
article 121-2 of penal code related to the crime presently defined.


Penalties are then defined by artcile 131-38 - which says the fine for a
moral entity can be multiply by 5 ( =250 000F) and 131-39 - which says
definite interdiction of professionnal activities for a maximum of 5 years,
definite closing of the responsible service, and publication of the
sentence in the media.

Considering that if the identity of the author is not clearly established
by the authors themselves, and not available on request to the hosting
service, the responsabilty is put on the hosting service and the last
sentences can be applied.

Before this law is applicable that is in less than one month, there will be
a second lecture at Senate and a last lecture and vote at the assembly.

This law if passed, will have very perverse side effects :

free, non commercial hosting services will be under increased financial and
judicial pressure, and might just decide to close.

Independant web-publishers and webmasters will be under increased financial
and judicial pressure, and might decide to give up

Depending on what is meant by "private correspondance", fora, IRC, mailing
lists and newsgroups administrators will be under increased financial and
judicial pressure, and might decide to give up.

Individual citizens will be under increased financial and judicial
pressure, and might decide to shut up.

The right to free expression,defined by article 11 of the Declaration of
Human Rights, and Article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, will
be severely in danger.

Public expression would be considered as an implicit "trouble to public
order" and therefore repressed.

Instead of beeing, according to our fundamental rights, innocent (until
proven guilty) and responsible citizens, we would be taken as de facto
non-responsible and guilty citizens

Seems to be time for "insurgency".

For more informations :

the january 19 Senate text and debate

the march 22 national assembly text and debates

thread on Slashdot

Write to the french Prime Minister

French Associations for free-expression and free Internet 6 IRIS" Coordination
permanente des Medias Libres - ISOC

Any input is welcome, the more this story gets known in and outside France,
the quicker we'll be out of this mess.

PS : The minister responsible for this law is likely to be changed this
week. Let's hope...

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