French President in row over filesharing bill

The anti-piracy bill which will be debated in the French parliament this week, will create a new state surveillance agency to monitor internet users online.

If the bill becomes law, it will rely on ISPs and tip-offs from music and film companies, web surfers illegally downloading music, films or video games will be identified. They will first receive an email warning, then a registered letter, and if caught again they will see their web access cut off for up to a year.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been a big supporter of the bill, and has taken advice from music and film industries who warn that France's creative industries are on their knees as a result of illegal downloading.

The culture minister, Christine Albanel, has argued that France is 'the world number one' in illegal downloading. In 2006, an estimated one billion pirated files were shared in France. A recent poll found 57% of 18-24 year-olds admitted they had made illegal downloads and one in three French internet users admitted to online piracy, the Guardian reports.

Not everyone is happy though, civil rights protestors accuse Sarkozy of unacceptable interference with people's private activities and claim the law is not justified. It will also put a huge onus on ISPs.

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