why website blocking will wait

Mention the reference “Prohibited under 18” it is decidedly difficult to translate into the digital age. On Thursday, May 19, the Paris Court of Appeal, arrested by two associations, The Voice of the Child and e-Enfance, effectively dropped nine pornographic sites.

For the complainants, these places do not comply with Article 227-24 of the Penal Code which punishes with 75,000 euros and three years in prison the fact of exposing minors to pornography, because they do not block enough access to minors, conforming with a disclaimer, a simple warning message. It is not enough to distract curiosity, therefore. However, the two associations were dismissed, not on the merits, but for breach of the principle of contradiction.

→ HISTORY. Pornography: how the blocking of X sites for minors ended up being imposed

A “world first”

Will it be different on May 24? On that day, the Paris court will have to rule, in turn, in another case, which refers to five locations, based on a recent law that allows Arcom (former CSA) to process the disputed sites. . If this time the judge were to follow the child protection associations and Unaf, who are in charge of them, it would be “a world first that would put France at the forefront of the fight against child pornography exposure,” according to the specialized lawyer Me Laurent Bayon. This would also be in line with the political will of the President of the Republic, who has made several commitments on the issue and most of whom voted, in July 2021, the simple ban. liability exemptions.

In addition, this would mean the end of an exceptional form of pornography. The blocking of websites by the courts is no exception. “Thus, a hundred were blocked by the courts last year, especially with regard to illicit broadcasts of sporting events, according to the lawyer. In the same way “Places that glorify anti-Semitism are banned at the request of associations like Lycra, for example, in a few days.”

→ MAINTENANCE. “The right scale for regulating pornography is certainly Europe”

However, unlike incitement to racial hatred or misappropriation of commercial rights, pornography is legal in France. It is considered harmful only to children, “Although technically, the blockade would be imposed on everyone. It would therefore be a matter of giving priority to the rights of the child to be protected over the right of adults to watch what they want. It would be a great victory for children’s rights. “ continues the lawyer. This tear would be a very strong symbol even if only short-lived, continues Justine Atlan, president of e-Enfance: “As soon as the sites show goodwill by implementing an effective filtering solution, the courts will lift the blockade. In fact, there is nothing insurmountable about them.”

Surveillance will be maintained

However, some doubt the effectiveness of the measure, which they consider doomed to failure. “Every time states have committed to a technical restraint solution, it has been avoided, says Nicolas Arpagian, a cybersecurity specialist and author of the book Borders.com. Without going too far, and while celebrating the will of the legislature and the courts to curb the exposure of children to pornography, centrist Annick Billon, chair of the delegation for women’s rights in the Senate, admits that surveillance will continue to bet . “You’ll need to make sure your content doesn’t migrate to other sites immediately,” According to her.

It recalls a bitter previous failure, with the Hadopi law on online works. “It started with the very laudable intention to remunerate copyright,” remembers Nicolas Arpagian. That “legal strength” designed to combat illegal downloads, however, it has been shown to be “A Maginot Line”, as uses have adapted and changed with the advent of streaming. The tool still exists but is no longer useful.

Another concern is the advocates of a free Internet. Blocking a site always constitutes “an act of censorship”confirms Bastien Le Querrec, lawyer and volunteer member of La Quadrature du Net. “It’s a myth that states do not regulate the network. Site censorship is as old as the Internet. As early as the year 2000, the Lopsi law made it possible to block, by decision of the police, those who transmit hate content or child pornography, in the name of child protection. Since then, bans have been extended to terrorism, serious crime, and so on. Although they do not work, since technically, you can always bypass national regulations, with a few clicks. » Resolution of May 24.

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