France's top court removes govt's right to disconnect citizens

After a long and bitter struggle, France has finally ended the threat of internet users being disconnected for a year if they illegally file share or download content three times.

The three strikes bill (known as HADOPI in France) was favoured by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and finally became law earlier this year having previously been rejected by parliament, putting the onus on ISPs to monitor online activity and report offenders.

HADOPI had sharply divided opinion in the French parliament. Opponents had insisted it gave the government control of the internet and citizens’ online activities, and that Sarkozy was more interested in bolstering the power of large corporations than the rights and privacy of French citizens.

The Constitutional Council, the highest jurisdiction in France, has decided that presumption of innocence “is more important than the idiotic schemes from the entertainment industries to artificially prolong their obsolete models,” the French pressure group, La Quadrature du Net, said in a statement – see blog.

It has removed the right to disconnect any citizens from the HADOPI law that Sarkozy finally got through parliament a few weeks ago, having been thrown out by parliament previously.

Jérémie Zimmermann of La Quadrature du Net comments, “HADOPI's 'three strikes' is finally buried. All we have now is a big tax-sponsored spam machine for the entertainment industries. But this is not the end of Sarkozy's will to control the Internet. The next law, LOPPSI, is already on tracks and will be about filtering the content on the internet. Citizens must celebrate this great victory but remain watchful.”