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France’s Proposed Web Blocking Law: A Threat to Internet Freedom, Warns Mozilla Foundation

France’s forthcoming SREN Bill could mandate web browsers to block websites deemed illicit by the government, setting a precarious standard for digital freedoms, warns Mozilla Foundation in a recent blog post.

Article 6 of the proposed law could empower the government to compile a list of websites to be blocked at the browser level, subverting long-standing moderation norms. While the intention is to combat online fraud, the Mozilla Foundation warns this approach risks providing an operational model for oppressive regimes and could undermine the effectiveness of censorship circumvention tools.

Key issue: Currently, browsers such as Mozilla’s Firefox employ phishing and malware protection systems like Google’s Safe Browsing and Microsoft’s Smart Screen. These systems merely flag potentially harmful sites, leaving the final decision to users. In contrast, the French proposal focuses on outright blocking websites with no option for user override, a move not yet seen even in the most repressive regimes.

The proposed measure is alarming for the global internet community. Once enacted, it could set a precedent that allows governments to dictate the content users can access at the browser level, posing severe threats to free expression.

Suggested alternatives: Mozilla advocates for the optimization of existing systems like Safe Browsing and Smart Screen instead of implementing mandatory browser-based blocking. The organization suggests legal frameworks to set reasonable timelines for anti-phishing systems to respond to authorized governmental requests, basing these on a transparent set of criteria subject to independent review and including a provision for judicial appeal.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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