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

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.


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