back to article France leapfrogs past Australia in Big Brother stakes

France yesterday put in its bid for an unlikely prize, becoming the first western country to make even Australia look liberal when it comes to state powers of internet censorship. In the teeth of fierce opposition both inside and outside parliament, the National Assembly approved, by 312 votes to 214 against, a first reading …


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  1. Mr Young


    What a bunch of total loons!? If these sickos want to spy on people why don't they go away and hide in a garden hedge?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Yet again...

    gov will do.. "installation of Trojan horses on computers"

    and no doubt the AV people will respond by stating they will remove such trojans.

  3. John Sturdy

    No big surprise here

    France is one of the countries that has tried to ban strong encryption. I'm not surprised that they've moved on to this.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    I bet every MI5 like group in the world is eye-ing France with bated breath! All those in-line security device makers all rubbing hands with glee, time to put some money in security company shares then!

    Sad thing is most people are unaware and if they were, they'd have "better" things to do that worry about online security. The sheeple simply can't see that this is mere taster to see what's possible, before the gov's roll out the big guns and send us screaming into 1984 or worse the dark-ages.

    Actually I prefer Lucas' THX-1138, far more stark than 1984, but just as frightening!

  5. CT

    a cute e?

    Bit of an encoding problem here, e acute coming out as uppercase e grave. Page source says UTF-8, so does my browser.

  6. heyrick Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Bloody Sarko..

    France has something of a history of making idiotic legislation (HADOPI, etc) that is later declared unconstitutional and binned. Let's hope this is treated likewise...

    Still, what do you expect from a leadership that admires Gordon Brown? F***wit.

    Otherwise... I hope Avast is capable of blocking anything they might decide to attempt to covertly install on my computer as you just know this will be abused. I mean, isn't there a saying about something being very VERY wrong when you can't tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Well, a lot of people like to complain about the US about things, but as more and more countries are starting to put in "internet filters", at lease so far we have not.

    Then again, since the CIA/NSA records all audio and internet communications for certain codewords, guess theres no real need.

    Gotta go now, as im sure ive mentioned a codewor....... *&^&*JHNK


    The above was not an allowed communication.

    Feel free to ignore.

    Thank you,


    1. Trygve

      You're kidding, right?

      In the US things this kind of behaviour is not merely illegal but unconstitutional, however it's all handwaved past in the name of national security and executive privilege and no doubt happens regularly. So what do you prefer, a goverment that says "we can legally intercept and control your communciations" or one that says "it is illegal for us to intercept and control your communications but we are going to do it anyway, because the law doesn't apply to us"?

  8. Ted Treen
    Big Brother


    Mere beginners & amateurs compared to the British government.

    The "Big Brother"est Big Brother ever...

  9. James 47

    Oh la la

    Wasn't it also the French who insisted that GSM encryption should be deliberately weakened.

    The first couple of high-bits are zeroes.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    No problem, it will be here before long!

    I think you will find that it is just the French "spontaneously" enacting the provisions of the not-yet-a-EU-Directive/Regulation setting up the "Internal Security Strategy & the Standing Committee on Internal Security (COSI)" and the powers that it will need provincial governments to have enacted.


    Scroll not quite halfway down, and marvel at what the EU considers to be Internal Security, and that they therefore have power to control.

    Just be glad that on this one it wasn't the British who were chosen to go first. I suspect that is because there is a general election coming up soon, and the EU wants to keep a low profile in the British news media until we have chosen our next Member of the European Council. (In the days when Westminster was sovereign we used to call that role the Prime Minister).

    I'll have a pint of Tactical Nuclear Penguin, please.

  11. breakfast

    The inevitable...

    "France leapfrogs Australia but quickly loses the advantage when it stops to eat it's own legs."

  12. Mike Hunt 1

    French Cyber Defence.....

    Hope its better than the last attempt they made at securing their country from invasion - I think they called it "The Maginot Line" - seem to recall the people it was supposed to stop went right around it !!

    Don't worry France - if you get in the sh*t (again) we (by we I mean the Americans of course) will rescue you (again).

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Speak Up ..... for Everyone is Listening for Intelligence Conversations in SMARTer Dealogues.

      "Don't worry France - if you get in the sh*t (again) we (by we I mean the Americans of course) will rescue you (again)." ..... Mike Hunt 1 Posted Thursday 18th February 2010 00:41 GMT

      Rescue them with what, Mike Hunt 1 ...... the Imposition of Colossal Debt and Invasion with Semi Permanent Alien Spying Base Infrastructure Building with the Expectation of Decades of Capital and Criminal Interest Payments, is an Old and Discredited and Discrediting Economic Plan which only leads to Politically Incorrect Fiscal Meltdown and Fractional Reserve Monetary Collapse. Do you have a Better Post Modern Plan or is the Old Failed One still the only one you would know anything about and would use again?

      1. M Gale


        Either I've been smoking way too much White Widow, or the Martian is making sense.

        Beer, because there isn't a bong icon.

  13. LinkOfHyrule

    Government trojans

    If governments are to make their own malware, what is the legal situation regarding AV companies? I would imagine that AV companies will be "instructed" to make sure their programs ignore government spying programs. But how will this work when only a few select loony countries have government spywear? Will it mean that you have country specific AV definitions. For example the UK version of MacTwatafy anti spyware flags up the file francegovspy.exe as malwear while the French version will ignore it?


    1. FIGJAM

      Premium Malware - Special Price this week only!

      I would imagine that once AV makers are forced to allow Government-sponsored malware, the code for these (once inevitably captured) will become the core of new "gold-standard" malware as traded between botherders and ID scammers.

      Thereby making it LESS safe to be online.

      Somewhat disturbing this is happening in France, one of the few western countries with a strong tradition of public protest. Places with less proactive constituencies will be that much easier to force compliance in - so If this succeeds in France it can succeed pretty much anywhere.

      1. Phil 54

        Ineffective public protest

        A strong tradition of public protest indeed! Too bad it never has any effect whatsoever on what's being protested.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Public protest

          ...some protest is ineffective. Some things will be stomped upon whatever.

          Some protest is pointless, like the closure of several large businesses (went to Eastern Bloc for cheaper labour) or the ending of the tangled mess of rules that effectively meant "job for life" (there are many examples of job-for-lifers totally unfit for purpose only they can't be shown the door). Furthermore with an environment where one in three school leavers is not in employment (and the prospect of finding employment is dim) coupled with a social system that is increasingly generous the more babies you pop out... even the dimwits are doing the maths and thinking "uh oh". But France, as a whole, does not seem to embrace change very well. Only recently (as in last year) did they manage to sort out the inheritance laws put in place by the Napoleonic Code. In fact, I don't think anything major has happened SINCE Napoleon.

          Some protests, however, are effective. I work a 35 hour week. Okay, some weeks I do runs of 42-odd hours, but the balance sheet over the course of the year is 35 hours. And if it isn't, BigBossBlokes start to panic. I'm also paid on the 35/hr assumption which sucks when you're putting in extra, but is nice when you're slacking back to make it balance. Pay is regular and consistent (and never enough for the techtoys). I dunno why 35, but it seems to be ingrained in their psyche.

          Sarko HATES Brittany Pig Farmers. Probably because he is in fear of them. I don't know what they protest (on the TV they're always shouting). They protest, then they leave. Usually with the target of their ire (whether on regional or national level) backing down.

          Recently milk farmers were up in arms, as in numerous EU countries. Only while some whined to the politicians and the television, the French lot (at least the ones around here) targetted their anger to the supermarkets selling milk for 1,12 a bottle. They would release the shopping trolleys and, using various agricultural things, made a huge pile of them (and I mean like 100+ trolleys in a heap). I've not decided if it is criminal negligence or really funny. Whatever, milk came down to 1,09 a bottle (whoo!) and the supermarkets wasted no time in pointing at the distributors, who decided to give the farmers a slightly better cut rather than find horrible things done to their kit. The price per litre to a farmer is an insult, whereas before it was obscene. It's a shame we can't buy milk straight from the cow and boil it ourselves. I'd pay less and the man with the cow would get more. Hell, I had from-the-cow milk hand-pasturised from a farm in Cornwall (back in the '80s). I'd pay a euro a litre for that...

          I think the effectiveness of any protest depends upon reality. Is the protest justified? Is the matter at hand an inevitable change?

          At any rate, it is better than bending over and taking it up the ass, aka the British Method.

          Sadly, however, I have a horrible horrible suspicion this will pass along with little in the way of protest because it is easy to spin to technically illiterate people. You mess with the 35/hr week or pension rights and all hell breaks loose. You say you want to filter smut on the 'net, the populace would probably say "right on, stop the spam while you're at it, we're all cassanovas we don't need viagara"...

          Hopefully, like HADOPI, it will be considered unconstitutional and get bitchslapped out of existence... though that may end up being too late.

          Still, there is a silver lining to this cloud. Even if this awful mess of bad ideas does become law, just remember what the France did to their nobility. They might be historically terrible at wars [*] but they will only put up with it for as long as it takes to organise a rebellion.

          * - for those who think the French capitulated - it was Vichy, the south, and don't-blow-up-our-beloved-Paris. For much of the rest of the country, the rug was yanked from under them, and there is a north/south divide that makes the UK one seem comically trivial. Oh, and pretty much everybody thinks Paris is another planet entirely. A lot of France did NOT voluntarily surrender, but you can't fight a war when your own leadership has effectively thrown in the towel. The people ended up with little choice, but through the Resistance they did what they could (part of what 'Allo 'Allo touches on).

          One of the end results of this is that France was broken into (semi-artificial) regions and departéments. While under the general leadership of Paris, the regions are capable of autonomy. It is said in a future war, if some agressor sails in and blows up Bordeaux, the rest of the country would say "congratulations, you've taken the Aquitaine... and?". Though, in practice, the country will be better served by being a NATO member, united we stand and all that.

          Anyway, long post. Congratulations if you read this far. :-) Point is, some protest has a hope and some protest is doomed to fail. But at least they get out and make their feelings known instead of just grumbling over a pint at the local.

          1. Phil 54

            Yes, but...

            I don't necessarily disagree with you but I feel I should point out that the 35 hour work week was NOT the result of protests.

            1. heyrick Silver badge

              35 hour work week

              Originally, no it was not.

              But they intended to raise it to 42 hours, um.... last year? the year before?

              The number of people that congregated in the middle of Paris made them not exactly back down, but defer the issue for another time, maybe another party in power...

  14. Michael Greenhill

    Please don't...

    France, if you let this go through it will only encourage Stephen Conroy. We have enough trouble as it is showing our dimwitted politicians that the firewall scheme is half-baked...I hope that European politicians have even a little bit of sense.

  15. Big-nosed Pengie

    Stone the crows n'est ce pas?

    That is all.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Already in place

    The point of this law is really to legalise practices that are *already* used by the Plods, and without which said Plod might get in trouble.

    Without this law, defense attorneys can successfully dismiss evidence gathered using illegal methods, such as intercepting email communications, get court cases against organized crime thrown out, and counter sue the police for illegal activities.

    That's the story that good citizens who "have nothing to fear" are supposed to believe.

    Surely noone who would argue against that...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Noone has Nothing to fear, most just Insulate with Ignorance

      Wiretap warrants for organised crime are not *that* difficult to arrange.

      Judicial-oversight of (among other things) warrants is one of the pillars Rule of Law is based on.

      Without it, Law itself loses credibility, and it should come as no surprise when this lack of respect leads to more lawlessness.

      Unfortunately this puts more of the populace under more control of authorities - many people have dossiers on them, slowly listing their misdemeanors until the time is right to cash in.

      It is a central psychological tenet of policing theory that EVERYONE HAS DONE SOMETHING WRONG SOMEWHERE, SOMETIME. This inherent guilt is leveraged to assert control.

  17. Neoc

    Am I the only one...

    who finds it funny that CNIL is likely to be pronounced "senile"? (written the same, same meaning, but pronounced slightly differently in French and English)

    1. Barry Lane 1



  18. shay mclachlan

    One thing

    Unlike the Skippys, one thing the French wont do is try to ban small breasted women from the Internet.

  19. David Pollard

    @AC - it will be here before long!

    Some of it already is here and already largely forgotten.

    Statewatch point out that the EU Internal Security Strategy proposal makes a case for a "proactive and intelligence-led approach". For example, "Cooperation should therefore be sought with other sectors like schools, universities and other educational institutions, in order to prevent young people from turning to crime…"

    Isn't this just another slant on RYOGENS and the Child Database?'s_Digital_Rights

  20. MyHeadIsSpinning

    Keep the sprogs off the streets

    FTA:- "Last week, for instance, the Assembly agreed to include within the new law a measure that would allow Prefects to sign off on a curfew for children aged under 13, out unaccompanied between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am."

    Good - that'll stop the little bgguers staying out all hours sitting on swings in the park and drinking cider and breeding.

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