The key regulation that relates to the personal data in France is the Data Protection Act (DPA).
With respect to the internet, there are no such stringent laws for internet censorship in France except that for child pornography, sites promoting terrorism or racial hatred and violating copyright rules.
The DPA law was largely amended by the Digital Republic Law in October 2016. This amendment was made just before the EU regulation (GDPR) to prepare for the regulation. The amendment encompasses the rules for the protection of individuals with regard to the handling of personal data and on the sharing of such data.
The French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) monitors the enforcement of the DPA and regularly issues decisions and guidelines on it.
Internet Regulating Laws in France
France is a country that promotes the freedom of press and speech online by allowing uncensored access to most content except child pornography, terrorism, racial violence, and hatred content. There are many steps taken by the French government to protect the rights of internet users.
However, there are certain laws which encompass clauses that are highly criticized by the privacy advocates. For instance, the Copyright law was criticized due to the rule to ban users from the internet if they were found violating the law for the third time.
The three-strike legislation and law providing the censorship of the web and the defense of a “civilized” internet were implemented in 2010. With the effect of these rules, the year was difficult for internet freedom in France.
The offices of numerous online media organizations and the affiliated journalists were targeted for burglary, court summons, and forced to identify their sources.
The Hadopi law was enforced in 2009 that authorize the disconnection of internet users which are found illegally downloading copyright content or failing to secure their system against illicit downloads. In August 2009, this law was supplemented by a Hadopi2 law.
The LOPPSI 2 law which was proposed in parliament in 2009, purposed to authorize the blacklist of sites displaying child pornography. The list will be maintained by the Ministry of the Interior and all the ISPs have to block them.
The Loppsi “bill on the direction and planning for the performance of domestic security” is an expended bill that focuses to modernize the internet laws, criminalizing online identity theft, authorizing police to tap internet connections as well as phone lines during interrogation and targeting child pornography by ordering ISPs to filter internet connection.
In 2010, the French government opposed all the legislation which reduce the use of filtering internet websites.
The critics targeted the step with an idea that the filtration law could expand in the future and may target other material along with the child pornography.
In 2011, the Constitutional Council of France authorizes the article 4 of the LOPPSI 2 law allowing the internet filtration without any justice decision. Also, the blacklist rule was authorized being under an administrative authority and depending directly from the Ministry of the interior without any separated or independent monitoring.
In Hadopi, the planning to integrate spyware “securization software” in the French Internet Service Provider provided modem-routers was announced on 21 April 2011. The purpose disclosed for such motive was to monitor any communication including private correspondents and instant messenger exchanges.
Law For Trust in the Digital Economy (LCEN)
This law was basically passed in 2004 that mostly liberalize the use of cryptocurrency.
The executive order in June 2011 implements the Article 18 in the Act. This Article allows numerous French ministries the authorization to restrict online content “in case of violation, or where there is a risk of violation, of the maintenance of public order, the protection of children, the protection of public health, the protection of interests of national defense, or the protection of physical persons.”
On June 23, 2011, the minister of Industry and the Digital economy Éric Besson, in a response to criticism announced that the government would reconsider the order. Probably a judge would overlook the legality of the content and the proportionality of the measures to be taken.
The French Council of State should authenticate any executive order which is about the decision that whether internet censorship authorization can be extended to such an extent by a mere executive order.
In 2013, the parliament finally turn-off the legislative provision on which the decree was based.