"The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday."
Okay, the law was intended to prevent so-called "happy slapping", the recording of violent acts to entertain the attacker's friends, according to BBC, but "the broad drafting of the law so as to criminalize the activities of citizen journalists unrelated to the perpetrators of violent acts is no accident, but rather a deliberate decision by the authorities," a campaigner told MacWorld/IDG.
Ironically, the law was proposed by none other than Nicloas Sarkozy, the French right-wing presidential candidate and Minister of the interior, whose presidential campaign is being advised by Loic Le Meur, Six Apart's European VP and one of France's most widely read bloggers. Le Meur is said to support Sarkozy in 'part because he believes he is the best candidate to help bring new opportunities to the French software and technology industries.' Right.
Le Meur, some will remember, had a bit of a fallout with parts of the blogosphere when he let politicians hijack blogging conference LeWeb 3.0 in Paris last autumn, and the bloggers present were none too happy about Sarkozy's 'monologue' for the cameras. It left people with the impression Sarkozy was there to broadcast how trendy he was by attending a blogging conference, while ignoring the people present at the actual conference. So not much praise for Le Web 3.0 organiser LeMeur on this account, let's hope he had nothing to do with Sarkozy's newly passed law, and this other piece of proposed legislation, which frankly is the most backward, oppressive and outright frightening proposal I've heard from a Western government in a long time:
"The government has also proposed a certification system for Web sites, blog hosters, mobile-phone operators and Internet service providers, identifying them as government-approved sources of information if they adhere to certain rules. The journalists’ organization Reporters Without Borders, which campaigns for a free press, has warned that such a system could lead to excessive self censorship as organizations worried about losing their certification suppress certain stories," according to Macworld/IDG.
On making it illegal for non-accredited journalist to record acts of violence David Winer writes: "lf such a law were passed in the US, we'd assume it was because the government was getting ready to commit acts of violence that they didn't want people to see on the web. The French would probably talk about how we'd lost it in the USA."