Privacy: France and the Internet

“The French National Assembly has passed a draft law that would allow illegal downloaders to be thrown off the net.”

France has started the route to producing the toughest laws in Europe, kicking people off the internet. However, even if this law passes it is still far less dranconian than the law original proposed by Sarkozy earlier this year. The original plan by Sarkozy suggested that software would be installed on every PC to monitor for illegal activity.

The plan for the current laws are:

The proposed legislation operates under a “three strikes” system. A new state agency would first send illegal file-sharers a warning e-mail, then a letter and finally cut off their connection if they were caught a third time.

The European Parliament is currently considering whether cutting off internet access is a breach of human rights.”

This is pretty similar to the laws planned by the UK. The obvious problem with this is evidence, or lack of it.

When the record industry state a “person” is found to be downloading or uploading material illegally, what they have actually found is that an IP address is related to a particualr activivty. Then, through court orders they have found the home the IP address was given to at the time of the inciden, then through the bill payer they have obtained the name of a “person”.

It is that person who gets blammed for that activity. Which is quite ridiculous as multiple people will use that IP address – i.e. family who all use the same internet connect, friends who may come by and use a computer while they are at the house, friends who may use their laptop and connect to the internet while they are visiting, neighbours who hoop on the wireless connection which has not been secured properly, hackers who use the wireless connection for their own nefarious purposes. All of thesee sceanrios could result in an innocent people being banned from the internet.

The EU is not likely to see this as they are looking at the issues of banning a guilty person from the internet, rather than the issue of banning a innocent person from the internet in error. Plus, as the politicains  around europe are clearly in the pockets of the entertainment industry, there is no reason that the politicians in europe  would not also be in the same situation.


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