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French To Outlaw Anonymous Web Posting

The French government plans to crack down on illegal Web sites and cybercriminals by requiring anyone posting content on the Internet to identify themselves.

During a second reading at the French Parliament of a new law concerned with the freedom of communication, a proposal was added which requires that an author of content on the internet must provide identification details to their ISP.

The proposal has angered the ISP industry who say that the proposals are unclear and will risk alienating French ISPs.

EuroISPA, the European association of the ISPs associations of European Union countries, said the bill is not specific enough, and while intended to control website operators, could be extended to individuals in chat rooms, bulletin boards and discussion groups.

Although ISPs are not required to police the new system, there is nothing in the bill to prevent policing duties being imposed on them. French citizens could risk six months imprisonment and a 7000 euros (#4300) fine for providing false identity information.

"As a law-abiding consumer, this law could push you to use non-French hosting providers and chat rooms in order to avoid both the possible bureaucracy of this system and to avoid any possibility of coming under a jurisdiction where incorrect registration could land you in prison for six months," said Cormac Callanan, president of EuroISPA.

Although the legislation is for French Internet users, a spokesman for EuroISPA said the bill could have wider implications for the rest of Europe. "The French have a strong hard line on Internet issues in general. It's possible that if and when the bill is introduced, the French may put pressure on counterparts to implement similar legislation."

In the UK, the government has been criticised for its Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill. Critics have argued that the Bill will criminalise the use of computers, turn ISPs into surveillance centres, violate the presumption of innocence and harm UK ecommerce.

from VNUnet.com.