At the end of June, the French government caused a stir when details were leaked of a draft executive order that would have given government agencies broad authority to order the removal or blocking of certain content from the Internet. Though the French Minister for the Digital Economy, Patrick Besson, announced later that week that the executive order would be revised (program available here, in French), both the scope of the initial draft and the likely process for revising it raise significant free expression, due process, and transparency concerns.
This proposal is clearly problematic in a number of aspects. The scope of content possibly subject to these orders is broad and ill-defined, leaving room for excessive and unjustified blocking of lawful content. Compounding these censorship concerns is the apparent lack of judicial involvement contemplated in the order-granting process. And it would dramatically expand the number of government agencies involved in regulation of the Internet, apparently aiming to give the French government broad power over online content.
Read more »