Towards a committee for French on-line services regulation ?

By EDRi · February 14, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

French Internet regulation history seems to repeat itself, as shows a
recently unveiled administrative decree project, which aims at
creating a “National Commission for the deontology of on-line public
communication services”.

The Commission would be in charge of elaborating “deontological
recommendations” towards professional on- line communication services,
including fixed and mobile telecom operators, ISPs, publishing and
distributing services. The Commission would also be in charge of attributing
“quality labels” to these services.

However, these recommendations would also indirectly apply
to the users of these services, through subscribing contractual
clauses, especially since a “quality label” may be withdrawn by the
Commission when it is found that “deontological recommendations” are not
respected. The Commission should include of 23 members nominated by the
French Prime minister for 5 years. Besides representatives of different
ministries, one magistrate and one member of the French Conseil d’Etat, the
Commission should include 14 members representing both – and in parity –
online communication services users and professionals.

French digital rights organizations have soon denounced this new
attempt of censorship. EDRI member IRIS notes that this proposal
sounds very similar to the first attempt of Internet regulation in
France in… 1996, through what was popularly called the “Fillon
Amendment” to the Telecom law. This amendment was found
unconstitutional in July 1996, and then its major provisions were
censored since, according to article 34 of the Constitution,
fundamental freedoms may only be limited by the legislator, while in
this case there were no specified binding principles for recommendations
to be made by an administrative Commission, with strong impact on
freedom of expression.

IRIS reminds that these arguments from the Constitutional council examining
the 1996 law still apply and may well be reused against a 2007
administrative decree before the competent jurisdiction.

Draft of administrative decree (in French only, 07.02.2007)

Polemics on the regulation of French Internet (in French only, 09.02.2007)

APRIL Press release – Internet Regulation : always the good old
methods…(in French only, 12.02.2007)

IRIS Press release – « Fillon Amendment » 2.0 : help, the public expression
« deontology » returns ! (in French only, 14.02.2007)

(Contribution by Meryem Marzouki, EDRI-member IRIS – France)