Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

Focus

French internet law clashes with EU position

  • French senators want to force web surfers to use legal download services such as iTunes rather than pirate copyrighted content (Photo: EUobserver)

The French Senate has overwhelmingly voted in favour of a law that would cut off access to the internet to web surfers who repeatedly download copyrighted music, films or video games without paying.

Under the so-called three strikes or "graduated response" legislation - which still needs approval by the lower house before it becomes French law - illegal downloaders are first sent an email warning them of their infraction. They are subsequently sent a warning letter in the post.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

If after this second warning they continue to illegally download copyrighted content, the internet service provider will cut off access to the internet for a year.

The legislation passed with a massive cross-party majority of 297 votes to 15. Only a handful of conservatives, centrists and socialists voted against, while the Communists abstained.

In passing the bill, the senators rejected an amendment proposed by senator Bruno Retailleau of the right-wing MPF party replacing internet cut-off with a fine.

Mr Retailleau accused the bill of being too severe. "Cutting access to the internet is discriminatory," he said, pointing out that often internet access comes bundled with television and fixed-line telephone services and that it is impossible to just cut off the internet.

He added that the internet has become an "essential commodity" that allows people access to social services and that their removal would be "traumatic for a family."

But the culture minister had earlier warned against the amendment, saying that the introduction of a fine was more severe a punishment.

"The principle of a financial penalty changes the philosophy [of the bill], from instructive to repressive," Christine Albanel said.

Companies and other enterprises where multiple computers have access to one network however, would instead be required to install firewalls to prevent workers from illegal downloading.

The legislation is the transposition into law of an extra-parliamentary initiative of President Nicholas Sarkozy from last November, the so-called Olivennes accord, in which some 40 stakeholders from the music, cinema and internet service provision sectors agreed that repeat illegal downloaders would have their internet cut off by ISPs. However, the accord was essentially a gentleman's agreement between the parties and without legislative weight.

The bill sets up a tussle between France and Brussels. In September, the European Parliament approved by a large majority an amendment outlawing internet cut-off.

The amendment, part of a wider telecoms bill, was then defended by information society commissioner Viviane Reding after President Sarkozy earlier this month sent European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso a letter requesting he work to overturn the parliament's decision.

Pressure mounts on EU cloud deal as deadline looms

The European Commission is under pressure to keep to its self-imposed September deadline to publish an EU cloud computing strategy, as new evidence revealed widespread public confusion about it.

News in Brief

  1. May admits 'not sufficient support' for third Brexit vote
  2. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  3. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  4. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  5. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  6. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  7. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  8. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us