France is set to boost internet censorship to fight internet fraud. The SREN Bill from the region as it is called threatens the security and future of the open internet, Mozilla has warned.
France to Boost Internet Censorship
Providers of DNS as well as web browsers could all be forced to block websites that have been flagged by authorities in France under the newly proposed law.
Currently being pushed through parliament, the so-called SREN Bill as it is known comes as a way to effectively regulate online content as well as tackle problems such as digital fraud, online harassment, and access to pornography by minors.
What Experts in The Field Feel About This New Bill
And despite being motivated by legitimate concerns, experts in the field have deemed the Bill in question as a “dangerous slippery slope.” And granting the French government greater website blocking prowess and powers will create further censorship technical capabilities, they reportedly warn, while also setting up a very worrying precedent that gets to threaten the open internet.
“In a well-intentioned yet dangerous move to fight online fraud, France is on the verge of forcing browsers to create a dystopian technical capability,” Mozilla, the company behind Firefox, in a blog post wrote.
Article 6 of The Bill
Especially most troubling here, Article 6 of the Bill in question will require DNS resolvers as well as web browsers to block any website that has been blacklisted by the French government for alleged infringements.
Yet, according to experts in the field, this in question opens up a series of controversies to both privacy as well as freedom of expression.
“Such a move will overturn decades of established content moderation norms and provide a playbook for authoritarian governments that will easily negate the existence of censorship circumvention tools,” Mozilla reportedly warns.
Web browsers at the moment make use of malware and phishing protection software such as Google’s Safe Browsing and Microsoft’s SmartScreen to help notify users of these very threats. These systems as you should know, though, leave the ultimate decision to users of whether it is or not to access a potentially dangerous website.
What The SREN Bill is All About
The SREN Bill for those that don’t know is focused on blocking instead, but it however seems to lack provisions to help stop this feature from being employed for other forms of purposes.
“Forcing browsers to create capabilities that enable website blocking at the browser level is a slippery slope,” Mozilla stated.
“While it might be leveraged only for malware and phishing in France today, it will set a precedent and create the technical capability within browsers for whatever a government might want to restrict or criminalize in a given jurisdiction forever.”
Privacy Advocates at Article 19
Privacy advocates at Article 19 reportedly raised further concerns over an overall negative impact on the data privacy of people. They believe here, in fact, that in order to easily comply with the new requirements in question, browsers may now be pushed to collect more browsing data.
Even worse in this scenario, greater censorship powers will also be a very hard blow to both the freedom of expression of users as well as content creators with commentators fearing that browsers in question may need to implement blocking mandates also to those very users that are located outside the borders of France.
What The Head of Digital at ARTICLE 19 Thinks About The New Development
“Even if particular content may be restricted under international law, blocking and filtering through the DNS or browser rarely, if ever, present a necessary or proportionate action,” Mehwish Ansari, Head of Digital at ARTICLE 19, in an official statement stated. “As it stands, this Bill fundamentally undermines freedoms that are guaranteed by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
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