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Anonymous Web Hosting Banned In France 278

An anonymous reader writes,"French free Webhosting services are now not so free anymore (In French!). In fact the French National Assembly has decided that anyone wanting to host some Web pages on a server has to identify himself. If this is not done, it's the server administrator who is responsible for any contents of the pages ... The immediate consequence for this is that free Web hosting services in France, like altern.org or multimania.com, won't be able to continue. "
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Anonymous Web Hosting Banned In France

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    There's a lot less child porn on the net than everyone says, believe me, I've looked.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's a lot more costly to run a webhosting service where you would require people to come in and show identification just to set up an account. It's also very inconvenient for the customer and they will most likely just have their site hosted in another country. I don't think this is feasable for a free service so it might in fact end free hosting in France as stated.

    -idealego

  • by Anonymous Coward
    >Makes sense to me. If child pornography is illegal, and someone posts it up on an anonymous webserver, anonymously, *someone* needs to be held responsible for getting rid of the content.

    NO NO NO! You're missing the point. Any time a government says "It's OK, The only ones who have to worry are the law breakers" you should be afraid that you're about to lose some rights.

    Take the example in the documentation for PGP. If everyone paid all their bills and wrote all their letters on postcards and you suddenly started using an envelope then folks would start getting suspicious. "What are you hiding" they would ask. "What are you doing that's illegal?" Well, you wouldn't be doing anything wrong, you just want to maintain your privacy.

    Be very afraid when a government tells you that there's no legit use of a particular technology. It usually means we've found a way to use our freedoms and they're getting scared.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I pity anyone with tech savvy who has to live there

    I was at dinner with some friends recently, one is working on an MBA at a top b-school (please spare the oxymoron comments) and brought along a classmate. He is from France, so I asked if he was returning there after graduation. He burst out laughing and I wondered what I said that was so funny. He said that no one is motivated in France to work, there is no "getting ahead" or "moving up." If you want to try, forget it, everything is based on status quo... you are what you were born into. He's staying in the U.S. whatever it takes.

    Someone else at the table works for a U.S. company with a Paris office, and the claim was that Americans who've just finished up a big project and want a break go to the Paris office for a few months as managers, no matter how low your position is. It's a piece of cake because the French workers hate you no matter what for being American, plus they wouldn't respond to effective management no matter what, so you just yell at them all day to work and basically abuse them (because that's what French managers would do anyway). They don't care what you say to them or call them because they are just putting in time until retirement. Since you aren't really doing much except being a cattle prod, there's lots of time to live it up in Paris and have fun. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Weirdness.

  • Do you think the dog will relate you whacking him to his actions? What is the time frame within which he relates the action to the whacking? If you wait 30 seconds will he still relate the two and cut the crap?

    I guess I'm asking if there's a diffence here or if your example just breaks down one guy beating his dog more than the other.
  • Spanish hate us? Damn I've never noticed. Not the Italians either. Most italians I've met (I used to live near the Italian border) usually spoke better French than English. Very few French people speak Italian, on the contrary (they really suck at foreign languages, usually, though not as much as Americans). English do hate us. I mean, at least that's what the Sun says. We hate Germans. We make fun of Belgians, so they must hate us somewhat, at some point. But the Spanish and Italians? Well you must be trolling Mr Coward, I've never had any clue of this.
  • There are really only two ways to handle this 1)the administrator studies the law and becomes expert on all the subtleties and precedents AND defends his legal opinions in court, 2)anything that is even remotely questionable is banned.



    If I remember correctly, there is no such thing as precedence in the French Courts (even the Province of Quebec in Canada works in the same way). In other words, everything is codified. So it changes from trying to set a precedent, to following the letter of the law. If anything it becomes more or a word game, trying to find a loophole in a contact can roughly fall within the same idea.

  • The French government hasn't changed a thing their will be still be free hosting people can access. They might start requiring ISP to block thoses sites to? Then you will see a great uproar. What about web boards are they going to illegal now? What about chat rooms since I don't have personal info on a talker I run in france I will be responsible on what they say? Please this has to stop. Stupity of these governments are getting too much.

    http://theotherside.com/dvd/ [theotherside.com]
  • I've been using the Altern.org service for quite a while (probably since 1997). Until 1999, all that was required was a login and a pass. Then, a French model sued the Altern.org admin for one of its users posting drawn nude pictures of herself on the Altern.org server.

    The French judge ruled that the ISP was responsible for the content its users posted just like a newspaper is responsible for the content it prints. I don't think I even need to comment on the absurdity of that statement. The Altern.org admin was forced to pay a few hundred thousand Francs. Slashdot covered [slashdot.org] the story.

    Altern.org was down for a while. The admin set up a petition webpage. Thanks to Slashdot and the concerned Altern.org users, the site was later put back up, and accepting logins. But now, a name and an email address was required. Later on, this was changed to a verified email address (the usual send-the-unlock-key-in-an-email mechanism.) I'm not sure whether or not Valentin (that's the Altern.org admin) had to pay the money to the model.

    Since the service is no longer really anonymous, I don't see what the problem is. When the site went back up, all previous Altern.org users were required to provide an email before their account was reopened.

    For some reason, Altern.org is the prime target of all the French anti-freedom legislators. I've yet to hear a story about the other ISP's like Chez [chez.com] or CiteWeb [citeweb.net].

    --

  • Ok, prehaps I should have put a HHOS in there somewhere..

    But, my beteween the lines point was that 'merkins have a significantly overrated view of themselves and there importance in the two major conflicts this (last) century.

    I dont know what brought you into WWI, but you were not a decisive factor in its conclusion. And everyone else had been fighting for 3 (4?) more years.

    In WWII, you tried desperatly not to get invloved (and I suppose that, in Europe, the Nazis went out of there way not to get you invloved) and managed to avoid 4 years of fighting before someone (woops) sunk half of your Pacific Fleet.

    Vietnam asside (for lack of a better description) the Commonwelth has put there ass in the line of fire longer (WWI/II), and more often (UN peacekeeping) then you have in (generaly accepted) nobel goals.

  • Twice? Three times..

    Oh ya, you diddnt win in VietNam either, and the non amercian Alies realy diddnt need you help in WWI.

    And in WWII, you invaded France, a netural country, but I guess you can call that saving them from themselves.

    Thats a little less than once in my books..

  • >and I hope France's economy will collapse

    Actually, they don't have to worry about that one.
    The french economy is already collapsed, and you'd probably have to work pretty hard to make it any worse.
  • Thanks for the reminder!

    I was thinking that, but I guess I thought it was a given.

    But I too, have had experiences that indicate that it isn't, not when an admin has so many other things to do in a day. Once again, many eyes makes bugs shallow.

    My new .sig: Join AMSAT [amsat.org]
  • At first I thought Big Brother (okay, Frere Grand) was just petulant at the prospect of not having someone to slap around, if something embarrassing gets posted -- but I think we should be looking for deeper implications (aside from the obvious potential spread of this precedent to other jurisidictions)

    Thus far, I have only been able to come up with one: civil liability in libel cases, the release of commercially privileged info, hoax sites (with possible criminal intent) etc. It would at least give the injured party someone to sue. While not innocuous, I think this may be justifiable. What nation defines "free speech" as including the right to lie? Or a protected right to hide one's malicious wrongdoing? (Note: I specified civil liability here, which narrows the issue to damages to a 'innocent' party)

    On its face, this law is futile, since there is no shortage of anonymous and free (as beer) hosting on the internet. Unless they close the e-borders, any French person can simply set up shop in the US and any french person can see such a page. (Note: the law holds French sys admins liable vs. forcing French end users to identify themselves in all web pages they own)

    It could readily be represented as a 'principled stand' against 'anonymous (written) terrorism'. I'm not sure I'd buy it, but it's not outrageous.

    Orpheus "yelling 'Liar' in a crowded public forum"



    My new .sig: Join AMSAT [amsat.org]
  • The Admin is only liable if he doesn't exercise the equivalent of 'due diligence' in requiring the users to identify themselves when they first register for webspace.

    What is due diligence in France? I don't know. Would e-mail address verification count? I certainly recall that requirement (though not government mandated) on many US sites going back to the 70's (E.g. Denver U. FreeNet public shell access account had a variety of methods including a nominal $1 personal check; or all the school and work accounts I've ever had)



    My new .sig: Join AMSAT [amsat.org]
  • A lot of work, but easily automated:

    1) If the law becomes effective, yank your server HDD's and place them in off-line machines

    2) post a new '404' on your server that says all
    accounts need to be re-registered

    3) as accounts are re-registered, copy each user directory back on the server (automate this to be a customer service one-click function)

    4) (optional) since the real concern of the original french article seemed to be datamining, add a watermarking routine to your server that stamps each page with the user info (as Geocities once did with their logo) It should be hard for OCR to read the watermarked data against a variety of user backgrounds. Concerned users would use 'privacy enhancing backgrounds' until the European parliament has a chance to point out that French laws (more the Jan 19 law (which madated release of user info to all third parties) than the current one) are illegal under European data privacy.

    My new .sig: Join AMSAT [amsat.org]
  • Well technically it's not anonymous if the web server keeps logs of the people who upload material. What i mean is that IP's (for the most part- esp when it comes to free websites) are pretty much factually identifying the person who is posting material. So in effect, by the pure fact that the server is keeping logs of the person's IP uploading data, it's not anonymous.

    if there is a proxy server between the end user and the free webhosting service, no problem. The web hosting service can pass the buck to the next level. They can say (if there was illegal material posted) well, the ip address we have is of proxy.foo.bar. And it's up to the french government to follow the link to the next level. After just two or three of these, i am sure the french gov't will realise that it's too much work to keep track of it.

    It can also be done at the account creation level. For example, if someone signs up for an account, they can leave an email address, and a name, etc... then when they are complete with the account creation process, the server stamps the account with a creation IP. Next time they login, they again stamp an ip with it... =) Either way, the webhosting service only has to give the govt the ip, and the govt follows it up with the isp, or university or whatever.

  • When you speak about "our country" please explain as there are so many (countries).
    By your reference to a first ammendment can I assume you mean the USA?
    In that case I think you have a point!
  • And that's bad... why?
  • Disclaimer: I didn't read the article, I'm just replying.

    Yes, responsibility is important. No, this is not helpful. I see this as akin to requiring a city park to hand out magnetic badges for people to beep in and out so that criminals tempted to commit a crime in the park could be tracked down. A nice thought, but horribly impractical. The criminals will either defeat the security in place (steal a badge, clime the wall, etc) or commit their crime elsewhere. Meanwhile, the park is not a very nice place to have lunch anymore, since everywhere you look there are prison-esq security measures.

    I think the "anonymous hosting is banned" title, if a little exagerated, is not off the mark (again having not read the article), in that if you have to identify all your contributors, there's no way for them to be anonymous. If you continue to allow people to post anonymously, it's extremely easy for someone to frame you.

    The other problem with data publishing controls is that it's motivated by the idea that someone's going to publish a piece of data that will be harmful, and someone needs to be held accountable. This notion of "dangerous data" needs to be looked at a lot more closely. We're not talking about shouting "FIRE" on a crowded internet. That's impossible. We're talking about porn, plans for bombs, etc. Let's look at how and why data can be harmful and solve those problems, not the general problem of controlling all data flow.
  • Socialist: One who advocates the state ownership and control of the means of production and distribution. This has nothing to do with individual freedoms, and is in most cases antagonistic to them.

    Information, including websites, are still economic products. To advocate that the state be in charge of them is to advocate against individual webmasters being in charge of their own creations.

    So long as the individual can be allied with in the fight against capitalism, the socialist will proclaim his love for individual freedoms. But once the capitalist enemy is no more, their designs inevitably turn towards those not of the collective mind.
  • On an off-topic note, could you please provide support for the notion that the National Rifle Association is a "hate group"?
  • It strikes me that unless every country in the world introduces such laws (and they enforce them - big ask for some third world countries), it's just a matter of the user picking a hosting machine somewhere that does allow anonymous hosting.

    The thing governments could try to do is make setting up anonymously hosted pages illegal, but enforcement might be hard, what with the anonymous nature of the things...

  • Well, doh, in a criminal case I guess. But what about civil cases? And what can (if this is so, I can't remember...) a publically appointed lawyer do against a team of Megacorp-lawyers?

    I think this is part of what the original poster meant, if you're rich you can always hire the best lawyers who will scrutinize every detail of every investigating officer, and every procedure and every evidence collection.

    If they find one error, be it just a wrong entry of a date, then the whole thing can blow up in the procecutions face.

    An ordinary citizen can not muster these resources, and will thus not receive the 'fair' trial of the rich.

    Personally I think the laws in the US with regards to what can destroy a complete trial and not is a bit over the top, as usual with the Americans. You only know two settings off or on...

    When it comes to civil suits it seems that your system is so fucked up (and what does that say in people 'believing' in the system?) that it is beneath me to even muster any other feelings than amazement.

    There's a good reason to keep clear of the Litagious States of America.

  • So if I put a whole bunch of links in this posting and posted as an AC, would it be illegal in France? Links directly to this comment would show a bunch of text with links, just as any other web page...although there's this odd "Slashdot" header on top.
  • I'm a bit confused by the comment that they wouldn't be free anymore. Doesn't the statement just mean that they cannot be anonymous?

    If the providers get the identity of the people to whom they provide the service, there shouldn't be any problem, right?

    ^Z
  • No, here, it's much easier. All you need to do is buy off 51% of the elected representatives.
  • This makes me think that Neal Stephenson might be right about our future. In Cryptonomicon (without getting into the story too much), he foresees a datahaven being "the next big thing."

    The main characters convince some king of a Pacific island to create Laws allowing anonymity of electronic data. The whole world (including all the evil guys, hence the plot) want a part of it.

    I would HOPE that all of those French users would simply copy their files to some other ISP. I guess the question would be, "would they still be legally bound to their site even if their site is in another country and hosted anonymously?"
  • umm..yeah so ? go to www.anonymiser.com and connect to slashdot. anonymisers ip will be logged, not yours.
  • You're plain stupid...

    Off course in France you're innocent until proved guilty. That's the so called "présomption d'innocence".

    if you don't know anything, please just don't talk...

  • "More is the shame that a Socialist party would be the channel for such an egrerious afront to individual freedoms."

    Huh? The protection of individual freedom isn't exactly a strong point of socialism to begin with.

    Before flaming back, look carefully to see if any part of this post implies that the right is immune from the impulse to suppress individual freedom.

    Corry

  • Poor newbie sysadmin.

    Maybe he could get off on a charge of negligence, maybe not. Either way, six months is the maximum sentence. There is no minimum. Mitigating circumstances, anyone?

    ------

  • They must be doing something right - their hourly productivity is quite a bit higher than the US - in fact the US is about 8th or ninth in the survey, behind them, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and a couple of others.
  • Actually, even with these restrictions, which merely require providers to identify who is hosting at their site (and is not yet law, but just passed first reading) ...

    French people have way more rights to privacy than we do in the USA. You can access your records kept by a website, they can't distribute them without your express permission, and they can't sell your profile without your consent.

    Donnez-moi la liberte, pas le mort!
    Mais l'amour serrait plus preferable, je dit.

  • Funny ? You what ?

    Sarcastic ? No.

    Ironic ? Well, it appears to be an Americans' post.

    Sorry, but this just isn't funny in any sence of the word. It's just someone proclaiming the same old typical "I'm American and I have rights" crap, but instead of changing it, making it funny if you will, they've just left it... as it was originally... i.e. unfunny.
  • I don't think that the comments count as web hosting.
    Don't forget that Slashdot doesn't make any ownership claims towards the comments, they belong to whoever posted them.
    Just because someone parks a stolen car on your drive, it doesn't mean you're guilty of anything.
  • BTW, in WWII, Germany lost the war in Stalingrad. Not in Normandy. Yeah, thanks commies. Sound weird, doesn't it?

    Actually, just for the sake of argument, I believe that the one battle that could have changed the course of the war was the Battle of England. If Hitler had not been so hestiant to invade England, instead trying to rely on just bombing, then it is very possible that Germany would have been able to take England out of the war. Without England, the US would have been much less likely to enter the war, much less make much of a difference without having a convenient place to stage their armies. Not to mention the fact that the Germans would then be able to put their focus on the eastern front, rather than having to split their resources.
  • it is actually illegal to use crypto in france as is. you need to declare to the govert. that you will use crypto, abd give them the necessary info so that they can decrypt it.

    I'm sorry but you are wrong. 40 bit key sizes are totally free, 128 bit is free as long as the software you use is declared to the gvt (declared!=crackable by the gvt). SSL 128 bit for example is legal...
  • it's illigal to make any cryptografy at all there

    No, it is legal, the encryption key size is just limited to 128 bit (which is plenty at this time)
  • That's what people in UK say...
  • They almost learned from the USA in the 19th century when they started imitating our invention of democratic government

    Ahem... "invented a democratic governement" ? Hello ? Anybody there ? Remember ancient Greece ? Remember the French revolution ? Democracy was around well before the 19th century, even before the first Vikings got their foot on what is now the USA.

    Ah, American, they always believe they invented everything - Edison being a good example of that, very good at stealing others idea and claiming to be the first.
  • From demands on what language may be used

    No - you are free to speak whatever country you like in France, the only obligation is for business to communicate in French and provide French documentation for their product. Hard to call this "censorship"...

    bans on encryption

    No it is legal, only limited to 128 bit.
  • I doubt the U.S. is going to extradite anyone from Andover to France over a slashdot post.
  • By my reading of this, 6 months in prison for anyone who, for example, creates a web-enabled chat server, or allows the posting of comments from web page viewers, et cetra (without subjecting posters to the ID requirements, probably impossible to do via http).

    Almost certainly forbids mailing list and Usenet gateways, too.
  • I agree with the above poster.

    There was a day, not too long ago, on the internet when you had one e-mail address, and if you fucked around, then you lost that e-mail address. Server admins were all Bastard Operators From Hell (BOFHs). If you attracted any attention to yourself, you risked losing your access to the net.

    Nowadays, there's absolutely nothing that anyone can do to you. Spam people repeatedly from your AOL account? No problem! Just sign up to AOL with a different credit card number. Or sign up to Earthlink. Or Netcom. Or one of the twenty local ISPs.

    I'm all for anarchy, but this is pathetic. There's no way for the community to control itself. The assholes have anarchy, and we have laws binding our hands, keeping us from going after them with baseball bats.

    The sooner that everyone on the internet is accounted for, the better.

    I don't care if you want to post anonymously to Slashdot or not. I just want to know that if you fuck up, you're going to lose something important to you.
  • I wouldn't say never. Check out my post [slashdot.org] from easrlier today.
  • Remember the French revolution ?
    French Revolution: 1789.
    American Revolution: 1776.
    USA Constitution (replacing Articles of Confederation): 1789.

    American "emperors" since throwing off the monarchy:&nbsp 0.
    French emperors since throwing off the monarchy: 2.

    FWIW, the model used by the Federalists wasn't entirely European. They used a Native American confederation (the Iroquois, IIRC) as an existence proof that a democratic republic as big as the 13 colonies could be run successfully. Previous to that, the biggest democratic institution had been a city-state. Call it what you like, Jefferson, Madison et al. were breaking new ground with their ideas of a Republic, and it's held up quite well in most places.
    --

  • The American Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court can do *what* to the French Government?

    *fwap*

  • non amercian Alies realy diddnt need you help in WWI.

    And in WWII, you invaded France, a netural country, but I guess you can call that saving them from themselves.

    I think it's a matter of opinion. First, a quick history lesson:

    In WWI, due to the antiquated tactics used, historians and war tacticians have calculated that a 3:1 manpower advantage would be required before an army could break through. Keep in mind that by 1917, Russia have capitulated, and Germany was able to send all of the soldiers from the eastern front to the western front, giving that army a numeric advantage. Yes, it is true that the American soldier was more likely to have been fighting with European weapons (American industry was horribly corrupt and inefficient at producing the necessary arms), and that he would be inexperienced as compared to the seasoned soldiers that the European Allied forces were deploying, but the sheer numeric advantage that came with the American deployment helped to, if not win the war, speed the Allied victory.

    In WWII, Nazi Germany invaded France, an Allied country, creating a protectorate (Vichy Regime). The members of the French resistance fought both the soldiers of the Nazi Germany and the soldiers of the Vichy Regime. Maybe, from the members of the Vichy Regime, Normandy was seen as an unnecessary meddling by the UK/US, but as they were a Nazi protectorate, they were far from being a "neutral country".

    Of course, Normandy was more ideological and political. It was done to keep the Soviet Union, with its "dangerous" ideologies, from controlling Western Europe. That's why during the Cold War, a strong West Germany was necessary.

    At the same time, the above commentary was from a rather pro-American point-of-view. You may consult the facts, and are entitled to your own opinion, but please do try to keep it correct =P

  • The Colonial Cowardace of France

    Actually, France just ran out of resources. They were, afterall, pretty drained from WWII.

  • But the french are not only idiots, they are fagots.

    So they're a bunch of musical instruments? Wow, I never knew =P

  • Poor newbie sysadmin, period, without this silly law.
  • They put so many restrictions on speach, France cannot call itself a free country.

    From demands on what language may be used to bans on encryption, I pity anyone with tech savvy who has to live there.

    And to think we had to bail them out twice last century.
  • by Hollins ( 83264 )
    I forget what the case was about, but the Supreme Court has ruled that anonymous speech is protected
  • As Valentin points out, if this law passes in france, then it could quite well become law in all parts of the EU. That is frightening, but might happen.

    An interesting evaluation, to say the least. I wonder how Germany would react? Since WWII, West Germany has been strongly opposed to any sort of government action which impinges on the privacy of it's citizens. Shades of recoil from SS actions. I've read that this is slipping somewhat, but remains a strong presence in policy making.

    Also to consider, France from time to time displays a strong Germaniphobic tendency.

  • > As Valentin points out, if this law passes
    > in france, then it could quite well become
    > law in all parts of the EU. That is frightening,
    > but might happen.

    No, this is wrong, EU law becomes national law more or less automatically, the reverse is never true. This would require the EU countries to agree on this great idea by a sufficient majority (or unanimity, depending on the kind of decision).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dammit, I'm an Anonymous Coward! How will I get by without anonymous web posting? I'll starve, I'll ....

    Oooh, web hosting.

    Never mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, i'm french (and planning to leave the country by emmigration means because of all those problems btw) and as such i just want to add some points that i do think very few people outside of that pitiful country are not aware about:

    - We are (also) restricted, by our governement will, to only one real ISP: France-Telecom, which is the only one with the ability to control local communications, all other ISP are in fact paying this one to have the right to use its phone lines. Non local communication costs are (obviously) set to so high rates that no individual or _even_ small company can afford the bill: the local rate is 0.28franc/minute (you need 6.6 francs to make one dollar), you consider it cheap as an american ? Then please consider also that the average salary a simple employee can expect is around 6800F/month (1000US$) and that about 24% of that money goes back to the french governement as income taxes and remember our little VAT rate: 20.6%, in that context you add the local phone bill.
    We do have some way to lower that phone bill if we pay for a kind of special contract which apply just to the Internet connection and which is restricted to only a couple of phone numbers (belonging to France-Telecom of course) called 'Primaliste Internet' then the rate comes down to 0.07fr/mn which gives about 4.5fr/hour, not that cheap hey ! ;| ... i almost forgotten that this contract is _only_ available from 22:00 to 08:00, very easy when you are living with a family ! :(
    There is also recently another way by subscribing to a special contract (whose name vary with the ISP) and which allow to connect within the same hours and not pay the phone line, of course it is quite expensive and usualy just enough to be useless for individual purposes. Furthermore only FT can sell those lines to other ISP and as such their number are restricted: about a week ago a french ISP had to refuse that connection to 300,000 people asking for it ... a day ! yes the number is correct ! As you can see, in that country 'freedom' is everything but a reality.
    You can also use ADSL, yes but as it is again FT which is allowed to install it, they delay, they take their time, a lot of time, in fact just as long not to get problems with the EU but long enough to be sure that the people do spend the maximum possible money before the year 2002.
    Having a static IP ? Well a dream. Note that you can ask to FT for a permanent connection to the net with a static IP, only (!) 20000F/month (3000US$), and obviously you only have a restricted bandwidth that forbids you to do any ecommerce which would envolves large downloads like sharewares or anything alike, and i didn't said the cost of the installation (which is not included) ... because i never came to the point of installing it !
    So, an acces 24/24-7/7 ? Simple: as the contract ends at 08:00 automatically but doesn't get back to the lower rate automatically at 22:00 and imagining that you manage to use it at least once, you'ld pay about 13000F/month (2000US$).
    Free homepages are required, for individuals to express themselves, not only to display the picture of its dog, but also to talk about important problem which may lead to dangers if not stated from an anonymous point of view.
    Is it a way to restrict people from doing so ? yes: look just at how many strikes are currently running in france and look at the very few number which are exposed through the media. But don't imagine that only that country is doing such things: why isn't it possible to find an US shop selling things internationaly ? ;|
    Yes, a lot of things needs to be done for freedom to become a reality. And as always, an elite chose and vote laws according to their needs, and usually it is money and power which are involved. If they really wanted to stop porn or whatever illegal things they would have just made pay for that to the ISP that way the ISP would have done ti's best to check after that, no they did involved the ID of the user, that way you can only display the image of your dog.

    Sorry for my poor english.
    PS: It cost me about 5US$ to type in that.

  • Just host your anonymous pages outside France (e.g., Geocities). Only the local French ISPs and French hosting sites will be hurt by this legislation. The French gov't must be filled with some real sharp thinkers, eh?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    j'ai versé les granulations chaudes en bas de mes sous-vêtements à Paris par le passé.

    Merci.
  • Spam is hardly rare in the Usenet.

    By the way, does anyone else find these "two clicks and you are smack dab in the middle of child porn" a little hard to believe? Where are these numbers coming from, where do the activists keep finding all of this child porn? To they have a different definition of child porn than I do (maybe anybody under 60 baring their ankles?)

  • The most sinister part of this, as far as I'm concerned, is that the administrator is now responsible for JUDGING what is legal and what isn't.

    There are really only two ways to handle this 1)the administrator studies the law and becomes expert on all the subtleties and precedents AND defends his legal opinions in court, 2)anything that is even remotely questionable is banned.

    If you thought IP laws were scary today, imagine what happens when your local ISP starts patrolling your site looking for anything that might possibly lead to legal action. Militant ISPs would make the whole idea of free speach and due process meaningless.

  • Surely the natural conclusion of the no-anonymity law in France has much wider implications than this article suggests, since a variety of Internet services permit "publishing" in a potentially anonymous manner. For example, Usenet, email (if you consider mailing-lists and spam as publishing, which I do), FTP uploads, IRC, almost every Internet communication technology permits anonymous publishing of one form or another.

    This is mind-bogglingly stupid, it makes the Aussie censorship laws look almost progressive!

    --

  • "If child pornography is illegal, and someone posts it up on an anonymous webserver, anonymously, *someone* needs to be held responsible for getting rid of the content."

    huh? first, your sentence doesn't seem to parse. this legislation does nothing to make someone responsible for removing the content. now i think you meant making someone responsible for the content.

    why does someone need to be responsible for the content? if i enclose a whole bunch of child porn in an envelope and mail it anonymously is the letter carrier responsible? is the phone company responsible for obscene calls? no.

    both organisations will try to help police and may even be required to do so. that's fine - require web sites to take down illegal contnet, and require them to try to trace the source if that's so important. not too keen on that either, but it makes more sense.
  • Why _won't_ the internet quickly lose its American influence? Its because of laws like this. Unless other countries adopt the democratic laws of the internet they will be in a weakened position to influence it.

    Yes, here in the US we are facing a similar stuggle, but our government is much slower. :)

    Is internet access neary as cheap anywhere outside of the US as within it? Doubt it.
  • Uhh...I don't think the US Supreme Court has a lot of influence in France.

    Spoken by a person who has never played "Illuminati: New World Order" by Steve Jackson Games... :)

    Jay (=
  • The kind of regulation you are assuming, that if someone hosts other people's content in good faith, they become responsible for removing that content if asked, is very sensible.

    However, according to the summary, it doesn't just say that the content "becomes the responsibility of the webmaster", it also says that the person hosting the content can be imprisoned for six months. And it isn't clear how far the "responsibilty" of the web hosting company extends--would they be treated as if they had put up the content themselves, including criminal liability?

    The implications may be fairly benign or they may be pretty serious. Someone with a better understanding of French law should look at it and explain its implications. But I don't think the law is as trivial as you interpret it to be.

    Still, I also suspect that it isn't all that different from US practice. It's pretty easy to trace people through IP addresses and phone records. And you can bet that a hosting company that didn't keep log records and showed a pattern of hosting pirated data would be found liable by US courts. And if the US courts couldn't get them for that in a particular case, there are numerous examples where the police just wreak havoc on-site and confiscate equipment indefinitely "as evidence", which usually amounts to a pretty hefty punishment in itself. Give the French this: at least they spell out a policy that, for practical purposes, probably already exists in the US.

  • CmdrTaco says: "The immediate consequence for this is that free Web hosting services in France, like altern.org or multimania.com, won't be able to continue. "

    Hardly. It merely requires that they make a creditable attempt to ensure users identify themselves when they register.

    However, on Jan. 19, the French passed a law that said hosts had to provide this ID info to any third party. The original French article seemed quite emphatic that they were afraid of 'data harvesting' by commercial interests (in violation of European data privacy laws) not freedom of speech issues.

    The January law was objectionable, and probably illegal in Europe. In its absence, the current law would simply force the hosts to have something to turn over (under court order), or take liability for the things that are said (if there was criminal or civil liability: libel, etc.). But combine the two laws, and it's mandatory publishing of private info.

    (incidentally, a stopgap might be to automark watermark the info onto the page with a graphic, as Geocities does (did) with their logo. Human readable, and automated (hence cheaper than responding to individual requests), yet hard or impossible to harvest (I don't think current OCR would be up to it, given the highly variable page backgrounds) Clearly what the spammers want is a datadisk of 'all users'

    BTW, will someone fill us in on what the French definition of 'due diligence' ('diligences appropriées') is?

    I certainly find it interesting that the original French article doesn't express any real outrage at: "Les auteurs de sites web doivent donner leur identité à leur hébergeur préalablement à toute communication publique sous peine prison."
    [My translation: "Web authors must identify themselves to their hostsite before publicly publishing, under pain of prison" -- up to six months, I believe. In other words: don't lie on your registration form.]



    My new .sig: Join AMSAT [amsat.org]
  • I'm not a lawyer, french, a french lawyer, nor can I even speak french, but this law could mean a few different things:

    • All french citizens with web pages on french servers are required to id themselves
    • All french citizens with web pages on any web server are required to id themselves
    Obviously the latter is a bit more restrictive. In any case, here's bablefish's translation:
    The national assembly votes the identification a priori authors of Web sites under penalty of prison. Summary: The authors of Web sites must give their identity to their shelterer before any public communication under sorrow prison. In the absence of identification the shelterers are responsible for the contents and liable six months to prison. The national assembly voted yesterday March 22 a bearing amendment on the responsibility for the shelterers of Web sites. This vote intervenes after the vote of the senat on January 19 which prevoyait the obligation for the shelterers to communicate the identity of an author to any third interessé under penalty of six months of prison. All the Web sites for which the identity of the author is not known a priori are legally under the leading responsibility of the shelterer. To release me from this responsibility I should obtain the identity of each of the 48000 users of altern.org. Well on the ecommerce will be content, what could be better than a file customer which the law obliges you to constitute by leaving you any latitude to exploit it commercially. The objective of this law seems to be the installation of a phenomenon of self-censorship on the level of the shelterer who must proceed to ' diligences appropriées' following a setting of residence of a third. And on the level of the author who beyond the preliminary declaration under penalty of prison, does not have any insurance when with the marketing of his identity. This law goes against the European legislation, and to that of all the democratic countries. This vote is not definitif, a third and last reading must take place. But it will be a question of rounding the angles between the text of the senate and of the assembly thus one can fear still worse. Concerning the future of altern.org, as opposed to what I said yesterday before taking note of the exact text, I can continue to exert as long as I accept my new role of watchdog.

  • Well.. at fisrt, this kind of made sense to me. I used to think this way. Look at this picture:

    I have a computer. It's mine. I own it. I have an internet connection. I put software on my computer to allow anyone on the internet to use it as a platform to, say, put up software. Now... am I not responsible for what my computer does, within reasonable limits? If I am knowingly hosting something illegal, it *IS* my problem.

    This ruling goes farther than that, saying that even if I wasn't aware of it, if I cannot identify the person who is responsible, then it is as if I am directly responsible.

    The problem is.. what is the 'web' ? Usenet? Web sites? what about when protocols change? I think this can be looked at in a fairly simple manner.

    1) It is your computer. Ultimately, it is your responbility what that computer does, within reason.
    2) If you are knowingly allowing your computer to be used for a criminal purpose, then you are guilty by association, and are contributing to the crime.
    3) If you are participating in a large distributed system, of which a small part is being used for an illegal purpose, you should be required to take reasonable measures to prevent this use, if possible. in other words, if you run an NNTP server, why should you be able to carry alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.pedophilia? Certainly, if you didn't know the group existed, you are not at fault, but if you know it's there, are you not reasonably guilty?
  • They mean "free" as in "libre" (liberty) not as in "sans coute" (without cost) ; this distinction is clear in French but not English. See e.g. http://www.opensource.org/free-notfree.html [opensource.org] for an extended discussion.

    Here is a Babelfish translation plus my attempts to clean up the French->English mapping. I knew that high school French would come in handy someday....

    The national assembly votes the identification a priori authors of Web sites under penalty of prison. [The French Nat'l Ass'y votes for prior identification of website authors, under penalty of imprisonment]

    Summary:
    The authors of Web sites must give their identity to their shelterer before any public communication under sorrow prison. [Website authors must identify themselves to their ISP/Web host before going public, on penalty of imprisonment.]
    In the absence of identification the shelterers are responsible for the contents and liable six months to prison.
    [... the hosts ... liable for six months in prison]
    The national assembly voted yesterday March 22 [on] a bearing amendment on the responsibility for the shelterers [hosts] of Web sites.
    This vote intervenes after the vote of the senat [sic] on January 19 which prevoyait [previewed] the obligation for the shelterers [hosts] to communicate the identity of an author to any third interessé [interested party] under penalty of six months of prison.

    All the Web sites for which the identity of the author is not known a priori [beforehand] are legally under the leading [primary] responsibility of the shelterer [host]. To release me [myself] from this responsibility I should [would need to] obtain the identity of each of the 48000 users of altern.org.

    Well on the ecommerce [the e-commerce sites] will be content, what could be better than a file customer [customer on file] which the law obliges you to constitute [identify?] by leaving you any latitude to exploit it commercially.

    The objective of this law seems to be the installation of a phenomenon of self-censorship on the level of the shelterer [host] who must proceed to ' diligences appropriées' [with 'due diligence'] following a setting of residence of a third [installing a third party home page?]. And on the level of the author who beyond the preliminary declaration under penalty of prison, [the author] does not have any insurance when [faced] with the marketing of his identity.

    This law goes against the European legislation, and to that of all the democratic countries.
    This vote is not definitif [final], a third and last reading must take place. But it will be a question of rounding the angles [reconciling] between the text of the senate and of the assembly thus one can fear still worse.

    Concerning the future of altern.org, as opposed to what I said yesterday before taking note of the exact text, I can continue to exert [work] as long as I accept my new role of watchdog.

    Valentine lacambre.

    PARTS:

    The voted text has [of] the assembly on March 22. (version complete with format pdf).

    Discusses and text voted with the senate on January 19 2000.

    Discusses and text voted at the national assembly on March 22 2000.

    press release of the AFA

    ACTIONS:

    Write with those which control us [write to our government] {great transliteration eh?}.

    Write to the Prime Minister.

    #include "disclaim.h"
    "All the best people in life seem to like LINUX." - Steve Wozniak
  • Let me say first that I see no problem whatsoever with the implications of this amendment by the National Assembly. While there are a couple problems in the implementation, most notably for free webservers in the Geocities vein, I have nothing against the alleged loss of privacy in this case.

    It all comes down to the balance between accountability and anonymity. Despite this change, the French are not restricting free speech in any fashion. They are simply stating that if you need to say something stupid, you need to put your name on the bottom of it. Rather than use the cliched child-porn example, let's use hate group websites. I don't know what France's laws against the promoting of hatred are like, but I assume they are stronger than Canada's by virtue of having been on the doorstep of the Holocaust. I don't believe that having such a site on the web has any redeeming qualities but for educating people in the effects of hysteria. What this new law says, is that if someone is hosting such a site, they are fully responsible by law for facing the consequences unless they have a proven identity onto which they can pass the buck, so to speak.

    This simplifies things greatly and in fact makes things more "free" (libre) for the providers. They are allowed to host anything whatsoever. All that this does is clearly state their responsibility for content.

    Recently (in the last couple years), there was a great deal of attention given to a similar situation with a web-hosting company in southern British Columbia. A site was hosting several hate sites, and the maintainer refused to give the identities of the American based clients. I never did hear what the Supreme Court of Canada decided on this case, but throughout the lower court proceedings, the host had been ordered to take the sites down on several occasions, and the order was blocked by appeal in all attempts. Free Speech in Canada is almost -too- unrestricted.

    Anyway, it was an interesting proceeding to watch. All that this new French law does is make the line clear between the service and content providers.

    ------


  • no not funny, insightful, I for one am tired of hearing all the crap to the effect of "Your children are 2 clicks form child porn" in the last issue of readers digest their was an article on CyberAngels, online stalking and child porn, Typical "Save the Children" I mean they called an IP address a secret computer ID number and called traceroute a special tool to track down users.
    I for one am tired of media fascination with child porn+net how many times have you heard the media go on and on about child porn without mentioning the net?
    my grandma came over to visit for a week, she thought that the net was all about porn and was shocked that my parents would allow me to access such a thing, I explained that the net is like a big city: there is a "Good" and a "Bad" side of town, but I have yet to stumble onto some child porn, and with it being "2 clicks" away from anywhere had any existed I think that I would have ran into some by now...
  • If someone is blowing the whistle on corruption in business or government, they might also need anonymity.

    This is especially relevant in France. Corruption and "gentle" coercion have tradition in France. The government routinely threatens physical violence against anybody who might reveal state secrets, which can be something as trivial as the President de la République having an illegitimate kid.

    Back in the old days, the French gummint could prevent the spread of uncomfortable information by threatening the author, then his publisher and finally his printer of abusive "contrôles fiscaux", or worse, by threatening the life of their wives and kids. Now, with the Internet, the government no longer has this ability, and they desperately want it back. The new media allow information travels faster than you can say "écoutes téléphoniques", and if you start threatening people, hundreds more will just mirror. They could easily shut up Jean Edern Hallier who tried to publish the old fashioned way, but a few years later, they couldn't stop Pascal Barbraud.

    Hey idiots, everybody understands that the Président de la République may have an extraconjugal lovelife, or *gasp* that he may get old and ill. But nobody understand why you tried so desperately to hide these facts.

  • > So they're a bunch of musical instruments? Wow, I never knew =P

    I guess you never heard French people talk - pure music.

    In fact, that's why blockheaded envious Anglos can't ever understand French philosophers, because they think a book of philosophy should sound when read like a 1950s IBM technical manual. Even Germans have more sense than that. Dim Anglos! Have you no hearts for art? Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

    As for the moron above you in the thread, yeah sure, that land which blessed this dismal ball, as it doesn't deserve, with Brigitte Bardot and Laetitia Casta, now that there's obviously a country fulla faggots, sure, you bet, like duh, you moron.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • The problem with the French law is, as other posters have pointed out, that the provider is also criminally liable. I'm not sure what the law actually states (my French isn't good enough, nor do I trust Babelfish to grab all the nuances one'd need for a legal analysis), but if merely removing the webpages probably won't be good enough. So, a poor newbie sysadmin, gets cracked, starts serving anonymous content, and he's probably liable. Great.
  • The French Socialist party has long prided itself for years on being the force of reason and liberatrism... some might debate this... anyways, that comment was intended to mean a rather large *sigh* at watching the *sarcasm* "intellectual elite" of France be so devoid of vision in the face of technology.
  • For people like me various "free" services have been almost 100% necessary. In truth the net was a very cost prohibitive area until these things started apearing. Most people can't afford to quit their jobs and go at something they formely did as a hobby full time with ramifications. Plus it's quite hard to justify the use and implimentation of something that costs quite a bit.
    I have no idea about France or how their people view things of this nature but I think that it significantly raises the bar on the ability to publish almost any content on the net at all almost in any form. Anonymity is a side issue from the get go. Also now that you have something concrete to loose (namely yourt over priced access to network computing resources) there is incentive to be "good".
    Basically what this does is force anyone critizing the government to make their views much, much more painful. Admins are just being pressured into becomming much more greedy and natzi like with things. In all practicality there is little reason not to allow free homepages.
    However this is one thing that does indeed worry me. Apparently many people who do software development seem to think that they must force each and every application to have some component to send data back and forth across some network interface. Also almost all of the applications on freshmeat are geared for people creating networks with machines that they have complete control over. This is very bad indeed.
    When you look at how much such services cost initially and how much they are not decreasing as a whole there is a really bad problem.
  • France is not especially a large bastion of freedom in the first place. I also seriously doubt that the US takes it's cues from France in any way. Although in theory 1984 is possible it is not realistically attainable in any way. Eventually people revolt and do something rash, the government looses money, people don't care anymore and the system collapses, etc. I would also make the bold statement that myself and each ad every person that is currently alive in this world will be dead and nothing but dust before 1984 can occur even on the most optimistic timetables.
    Plus there is the issue that perhaps no one realizes. France is a democratic country not a communist one controlled by a dictator. France is also on our side (the US). Last I checked no one is getting randomly slaughtered in France for what they say, nor are there any really large quantities of political prisoneers that could have been possibly jailed. Also realize that 1984 concerned itself with a location of theworld which did not include France in the least so there is a minor problem.
    What I see a bigger problem is that the creation of content is becomming much more of an intensive process and costs more and more. I think people don't have any idea how much it takes to create your own content providing system. Now maybe on slashdot people pull 6-7 digit salaries but I do not and I would also wager that most of the people in France don't either. Now we are not simply content to have standard HTML and graphics dynamic content and various levels of java, javascript, and other things are also required and other server side mechanisms that almost no one can really have without a supreme sacrifice. What I see as happening is that the average Joe is going to get screwed not by the government but by inequal distribution of the ability to speak and convey information. Sure I can be as smart as einstein but if I have a page a geoshitties and you have something like http://www.jimmycoolslashdotter.com with all sorts of dynamic content and maybe say 100Gb of page space that you can fill with almost
    anything you like and make it look good what does that do? When will it be possible to connect an arbitrary PC to the net and give such preformance?
  • Under the law, does the name of the host need to be publicly available, or merely accessible to the government (though the webmaster for instance). The first outright bans anonymity. The second establishes responsibility for content. Under the second it would also still be possible for webmasters who trusted their users (or monitored them) to allow fully anonymous hosting (at some liability to themselves).

    The significance of this depends a great deal on the details of the law. I hope that if it is a reasonable one.

    Steve

  • This specific bill (which has passed the Parliament and Senate readings, and now only has to go back once to the Parliament after the Senate's corrections before it can be made law) has exactly two consequences:

    1: Unless you are a big company, there is no way you can devote the manpower to register all your users. Exit the small content providers.
    2: Anyone who wants to post anonymously will open a page on Geocities or somewhere else, where such a legislation doesn't exist.

    What the government fails to see is that there is exactly 0 difference and 0 added cost accessing a WWW page stored somewhere in New Zealand, for example, rather than France. So the net effect isn't to make "illegal" content disappear or more easily prosecutable. It's to change it's URL :)
  • My french isn't that good, but the article seemed to indicate that anyone hosting a web page with no means of identifying authorship was in violation of this new law. As far as I can tell, any agency that allows someone to put up a page under their domain, in france, is responsible for that page if they cannot supply the author.

    So what keeps french citizens with beefs against the government from posting their revolutionary propaganda to, say, a US public hosting page? It doesn't seem like this accomplishes anything but the inconveniencing of harmless teenagers creating their first web site... anyone else would be just as well served getting foreign hosting.

    It would have been more effective for a government with such anti-liberty tendancies to take control of these public hosting sites and make them more intrusive without being obvious - IE, requiring an email to send access password to, requiring it to be .fr, and requiring all french domains to be in some manner registered.

    Not that I advocate totaltarian governments. No, not I.

    [goosestep off, stage left]
  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @12:35PM (#1174830) Homepage
    What if some US legislators think it's a good idea and try to pass it as law? If that should happen it will become increasingly difficult for other countries to remain havens of anonymity.

    Precedents can be dangerous. It doesn't matter if there are workarounds.


    ----
  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig,hogger&gmail,com> on Friday March 24, 2000 @05:03PM (#1174831) Journal

    An anonymous reader writes,"French free Webhosting services are now not so free anymore (In French!). In fact the French National Assembly has decided that anyone wanting to host some Web pages on a server has to identify himself. If this is not done, it's the server administrator who is responsible for any contents of the pages ... The immediate consequence for this is that free Web hosting services in France, like altern.org or multimania.com, won't be able to continue. "

    Can't you guys read the whole thing before going ballistic???

    Cette loi va à l'encontre de la legislation européenne, et de celle de tous les pays démocratiques.

    This law goes against European law, and [the law] of all democratic countries.

    Ce vote n'est pas definitif, une troisième et dernière lecture doit avoir lieu. Mais il va s'agir d'arrondir les angles entre le texte du sénat et de l'assemblée donc on peut craindre encore pire.

    This vote is not final, a third and final reading will have to happen. But it will be to cut corners between the senate text and the National Assembly text, so we can fear even worse.

    So, for the laymen, this has not happenned yet, and if it does, it will be challenged in the European court.


    --

  • by XJoshX ( 103447 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @11:54AM (#1174832) Journal
    Umm, there's no way the french government to block people from using US and other countries free servers. In other words, this is just another great law that will be a huge pain in the butt and do nothing positive for the French.

    It's nice to no that we in the USA are not the only ones being governed by idiots.
  • by elegant7x ( 142766 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @01:46PM (#1174833)
    I think you think to highly of your country. It was just a few months ago that the US department of Justice proposed eliminating Anonymity on the Internet. Now, I'm not sure exactly what this entailed (since there isn't really any true anonymity on the net other then IP spoofing). Mostly likely email, but it could probably be read to include websites as well. It?s a widely known fact that just about anyone 'inside the beltway' doesn?t know jack about the 'information cyber web'

    Yes, the US does have a constitution that protects the rights of its citizens (god, I almost said users). But from where I'm standing, it looks like there being eaten away to serve corporate, and law enforcement desires. This is the same Nation that passed laws saying that copyrights should be extended 90 years after the author's death (and you can bet they'll be extended again by the time Mickey mouse's © is up). This is a nation who's FBI who wants wiretapping technology built into routers, and the ability to wiretap international satellite phone.

    To be honest, it doesn?t really seem like America is that far from the nightmares of Orwell and Gibson. And a lot of western/European countries are following their lead.

    Amber Yuan 2k A.D
  • by Nicolas MONNET ( 4727 ) <nicoaltiva&gmail,com> on Friday March 24, 2000 @05:10PM (#1174834) Journal

    The law started well. It was first designed to solve the altern.org vs. Estelle "Bimbo" Halliday scandal. So it started well. But then ... as the law was being passed in the parliament, some zealot deputy or senator ammended with delirious requirements. Somehow, as that usually happens, those went unnoticed and passed.

    But there is worse than what Valentin points out in his small blurb. Here's a fucking insane part of it: you may get 6 months of jail and/or $100k of fines if you misidentify yourself on a bulletin board. Now isn't that insane? Or just plain ridiculous.

    Plus that's the kind of law the Scientology will loooooove. They'll be able to get the name and addresses of their opponent, they won't have to spend money researching them to send their hordes of drone picketing outside their home with "XX is a pedophile" signs.

    Anyway, everything is not lost, the law might be challenged before the constitutional council. But I'm extremely disappointed by the weak coverage in the press.

  • by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <dredd@megacity.org> on Friday March 24, 2000 @12:20PM (#1174835) Homepage
    So, if you're a web hosting company, and you have, say, several MILLION users, you are now required, under French law, to check each and every one of them for "identification", lest you (as the hoster) be responsible for the content.

    Making changes to the TOS "demanding" that users include contact info isn't enough, because if the users DON'T, then BigHostingCompany is responsible for the content. To the French, it is "your problem" if the people hosting on your server didn't put the identification, because YOU are responsible for their content.

    Prediction: Mass exodus of web servers, a la Australian and p0rn sites.

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @03:16PM (#1174836)
    Actually, napster IS enabling something.
    To you and I, it adds nothing for us. We already already highly proficient at moving data around the internet ( and other ways ) and can do it much more efficiently.

    Napster enables those who don't have these skills to do it anyway. You only have to look at the fact that SO many people use napster now to see that it is true. Napster provides a user interface to people that they can comprehend and use to share mp3.

    And as to an 'underground'.. you are bang on. We don't NEED the web. we can do many other things, in different ways.
  • by bodhi ( 42587 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @12:39PM (#1174837)
    Slashdot claims, in a headline, that "anonymous hosting is banned."

    Read the little blurb, and it says that not at all. It says that if a webpage does not clearly identify the page owner, any content on it becomes the responsibility of the webmaster.


    So either A) the page owner puts up identification, so it's no longer anonymous, or B) the hosting service takes on all responsibility, thus rendering it directly liable for anything that gets posted. B) is, IMHO, not terribly likely.

    Granted, the law might not state "anonymous webpages are illegal", but the effect is the same. No more anonymous hosting within the boundaries of France.

    Makes sense to me. If child pornography is illegal, and someone posts it up on an anonymous webserver, anonymously, *someone* needs to be held responsible for getting rid of the content.

    Illegal content is still illegal. And was illegal before this. Sensible AUPs would disallow illegal content.

    What's so wrong with that? Unless the French government is really pushy, sounds to me like it'll only become a problem for webmasters who have users that post illegal content.

    "Why do you want to be anonymous if you don't have anything to hide?"

    What about commentary on political or social issues? If someone is trying to express an opinion without prejudicing an audience either for or against the expresser, they need anonymity. If someone is trying to avoid flames (or sometimes physical threat), they need anonymity. If someone is blowing the whistle on corruption in business or government, they might also need anonymity.

    Ideally, no one would be anonymous. Because ideally, no one would have need to be so.
  • by Nexx ( 75873 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @12:30PM (#1174838)
    So yet again, we begin the 1984-isation of the world, by taking away not the freedoms themselves, but the vehicles for them. By attempting to silence people with different agenda's than yourselves, however much you disagree with them, you degrade your own freedoms. Unfortunately, the French government (and to a lesser extent, the US government as well) does not seem to understand this. At the same time, if the press do not keep the people aware of these limits to their personal freedom, then the press is not doing their job.

    However, it also seems that many people misunderstand the notion of "personal freedom". The original notion of personal freedom, as advocated by Locke and others, state that with freedom come a set of responsibilities. The fundamental aspect of these responsibilities deal with not depriving others of their freedoms as well. Therefore, governments attempt to produce laws that are "fair", striking a set of codes that, together, attempt to create a balance between freedom and responsibility.

    It all works in an ideal world, but we all know that we do not live in an ideal world. Citizens of democracy have a right to know what the legislations their governments attempt to impose upon them, and an obligation to not blindly reelect those officials who deprive these basic rights in a callous manner.

  • by vyesue ( 76216 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @12:36PM (#1174839)
    Now, I hate the french as much as any fashionable American, but you have to admit, they did hook us up in the Revolutionary War.
  • by Vicegrip ( 82853 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @12:45PM (#1174840) Journal
    There is a substantial difference between forcing webmasters to remove illegal content on a web site when it has been discovered and making them ciminally liable for not knowing who it was that posted the material.
    The article states the penalty is a prison term of 6 months: Good lord, some poor smuck newbie sys admin gets his web site cracked by script kiddies posting warez in an obscure sub-directory and for that he gets a criminal record and 6 months in jail?
    Arguing such a scenario was not the intent of the law plays foolishly into the hands of those who would use it to crush your voice of dissension.
    This is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to restrict content to government sanctionned distribution channels. More is the shame that a Socialist party would be the channel for such an egrerious afront to individual freedoms.
    I'm sick and tired of people raising the specter of pornography everytime they want to take away my freedom.
  • by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <sether@NOsPam.tru7h.org> on Friday March 24, 2000 @11:53AM (#1174841) Homepage
    Slashdot claims, in a headline, that "anonymous hosting is banned."

    Read the little blurb, and it says that not at all. It says that if a webpage does not clearly identify the page owner, any content on it becomes the responsibility of the webmaster.

    It basically ramps up the responsibilities of those who own the machine.

    Makes sense to me. If child pornography is illegal, and someone posts it up on an anonymous webserver, anonymously, *someone* needs to be held responsible for getting rid of the content.

    What's so wrong with that? Unless the French government is really pushy, sounds to me like it'll only become a problem for webmasters who have users that post illegal content.

    Those web hosting services *can* continue, right? They'll just probably be modifying the TOS to enforce their users to supply names and contact info.
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @11:52AM (#1174842) Journal

    Anonymous Coward comments are, in a sense, anonymous webhosting.

  • by Mullen ( 14656 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @11:57AM (#1174843)
    Sounds dumb to me for another reason. They are going to kill the ISPs and thus Internet industary in France. ISPs have to prove the identity's of all persons having a web page. So if they can't they get fined or jailed. So what do the ISP's do instead, remove all pages. If someone in France wants a page they have to goto another country (Hopefully the USA, since I am resident of that country and it would make our economy stronger).
    No ISPs? Then French will leave France and work in other countries when it comes to eCommerce, they Next Big Thing.

  • Anonymity has always been outlawed in France, this is the summary of a bill before the french national assembly to codify a law banning all anonymity on any internet service physically on french territory.

    As this article points out, the law is not yet final, but one more vote will make it final. The bill was unopposed by the clueless elected officials, because it merely confirms the internet must follow existing french law.

    The new law will require all web hosting services to verify the identity of every person putting a web page on their servers, and must turn over that identity to any person who ask for it, including any cop or government official, as well as any private citizen. There is no requirement to publish the web authors information on the web page, merely to maintain a copy and to give it out when asked. It also says that if the web site owner can't or won't turn over the identity of a user, then its 6 months in prison.

    The immediate downside of this law if it passes is that altern.org will have to kick off all users, and only let back on those who can prove their identity in one of the ways acceptable to the french government (carte d'identity, permis conduire (driving permit), or passport, as well as proof of residency of a current phone or electricity bill).

    As Valentin points out, if this law passes in france, then it could quite well become law in all parts of the EU. That is frightening, but might happen.

    The uncertain thing is what happens to people in other countries using french web hosting services and cant travel to france to prove their identity. As the law is currently written, french web hosting can only allow identified users on french soil, and all others must be kicked off.

    ahhh, c'est les francais

    the AC
  • by Desert Raven ( 52125 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @01:48PM (#1174845)
    Anyone remember how this case got started?

    This all came about over a copyright fight because model Estelle Hallyday did not like that nude photos of her had been scanned from a magazine and posted to free website AlternB.

    One VERY important note from the original case is that the plaintiffs did not even TRY to identify the poster of the "offending" material. They specifically targeted the ISP. In fact, it seems that it would have been quite trivial to identify the owner of the pages.

    Article from March, 1999 in Wired News [wired.com]

    The implications of this decision are FAR worse than a cursory examination would reveal.

  • by kugano ( 84704 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @01:06PM (#1174846) Homepage
    Here is a non-Babelfish translation for those who want a better, understandable version :) Enjoy


    The National Assembly passes law requiring Web site authors to identify themselves
    under penalty of imprisonment.


    Summary:
    Web site authors must identify themselves to their hoster before any public
    communication can be made, under penalty of imprisonment.
    In the absence of an identification, the hoster is responsible for the site's
    contents and is liable for up to six months in prison.

    Yesterday, March 22, the national assembly approved an amendment dealing with
    the responsibilities of Web site hosters.

    This law follows from the vote of
    the Senate on January 19 which required Web hosters to disclose the
    identity of any author to a third party under penalty of six months in prison.

    All Web sites whose authors are unknown are the legal responsibility
    of the hoster. In order to free myself from this responsibility I would
    have to obtain the identities of each of altern.org's 48,000 users!

    Of course, the e-commerce industry will be happy. What could be better than
    requiring customers to reveal their identities, leaving you the possibility
    of commercial exploitation?

    The goal of this law seems to be to enact self-censorship on the level of the
    Web hoster, and on the level of the author who, after giving up his identity
    under penalty of imprisonment, has no insurance that his personal identity will
    not be used for unfair profit.

    This vote, however, is not definitive. A third and last reading must take
    place. But it will be a question of reconciling differences in the texts
    put forth by the assembly and by the Senate, so the law could conceivably
    get worse.

    As far as the future of altern.org is concerned, contrary to what I said
    yesterday before reading the law's exact text, I can continue to host
    sites as long as I accept my new role as watchdog.

    [Note: I, the translator, take no responsibility for discrepancies
    between the translation and its original version on altern.org.]

  • by neo-opf ( 167085 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @12:14PM (#1174847)

    Who the heck do the french think they are? Have they ever heard of the Bill of Rights? Don't they realize that we have rights in America that they have to respect. If they don't, we'll have to take them to court. Those Supreme Court guys have this funny tendancy to uphold the constitution.

    French people piss me off.

    -----
    The new orange petal fuckers is coming for you and he has a big belt buckle.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.

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