French Digital Council with no representative from Internet users

By EDRi · May 4, 2011

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Frankreichs Internet-Rat ohne Konsumentenvertreter |]

On 27 April 2011, French President Nicolas Sarkozy officially installed the
National Digital Council (Conseil national du numérique – CNN) which is to
advise the French government on digital issues. Among the 18 personalities
belonging to the newly established body, there is no representative of
Internet users but only of private companies.

On the occasion of the establishment of the council, Sarkozy seemed to want
to reconcile the Internet by recognizing some errors related to the
most criticised Hadopi and Loppsi laws.

However, this impression was soon after clarified as Sarkozy’s
statements were meant to justify the creation of CNN “useful at the time of
the elaboration of the two laws having instituted (…) to formalize even
more the dialogue between the economy actors and the Internet.” The
president had no intention of amending these laws which, in his opinion, are
the best tools to defend copyright.

Furthermore, while CNN was created to advise and give recommendations to the
government for “the development of the Internet in France” and in order “to
avoid past errors”, it has come up that, actually, the decree on the
creation of CNN, which deviates from the original recommendations drafted by
Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet, shows a significant decrease of its powers. The
government has decided to limit the role of the body by refusing to
systematically consult it in all draft texts in the digital area.

The decree says that “the National Digital Council has the mission to
enlighten the government and to participate in the public debate in the
digital domain” and therefore, it can be “consulted by the government in any
legislative and regulation draft measures susceptible of having an impact on
the digital economy”.

The council will however be able to make its recommendations and will draft
an annual activity report that will be submitted to the President of the
Republic, the Prime Minister and the minister in charge of the digital
economy. The report will not be seen by the Parliament, as it was
recommended in Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet’s report.

The decree has raised serious criticism particularly as the council members
include no representation from civil society. Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder
and spokesperson of La Quadrature du Net considers CNN, “one more machine
where the citizens are not even represented” and which “will never be

The Council officially gathered on 27 April 2011 when its 18 members elected
Gilles Babinet, founder of Musiwave, as its president.

Sarkozy answered the critics arguing that the consumers have their own
authorities and gave assurances as to CNN’s independence. On this occasion,
the opposition has again reacted and asked once more for the abrogation of
the infamous Hadopi laws. Meanwhile, Hadopi authority continues its
graduated response activities passing to the second phase of the operation.

The National Digital Council forgets about the Internet users (only in
French, 27.04.2011)

Nicolas Sarkozy comforts Hadopi but recognises errors (update) (only in
French, 28.04.2011)

CNN will not be systematically consulted by the government (only in French,

No representative of the public at the National Digital Council (update only
in French, 27.05.2011)