France Presses Ahead With Bill To Cut Off File-Sharers

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A law which which would cut persistent file-sharers off the Internet has been passed by the French National Assembly – and now only needs to clear a panel of senators to become law

Draft legislation which could see persistent file sharers in France having their internet access cut off has been passed by the French National Assembly – however it will have to be approved by a panel of senators before it is actually enacted into law.

The latest developments in the journey to pass the draft legislation, announced this week, follow on from a decision in April by France’s Constitutional Court to reject the law which would allow for file-sharers to have their internet access blocked after a “three-strike” system of email and written letter warnings.

The next hurdle for the draft legislation, which is being backed by President Sarkozy’s UMP Government, will see it face a commission made up of senators and deputies over the next few days who will decide whether it is actually passed into law.

The news that France appears to be pressing ahead with the legislation despite widespread public opposition may embolden the UK government which has proposed similar measures which would see the internet access of file-sharing households cut off.

Last month, the UK government said that it was considering actions that would include forcing ISPs to take action against “repeat infringers” which could include blocking access to download sites, reducing broadband speeds or even “temporarily” suspending an individual’s internet access.

“This does not necessarily mean that suspension would be used – this step would obviously be a very serious sanction as it would affect all members of a household equally, and might disrupt access to other communications, so it should be regarded as very much a last resort,” the government said at the time.

Commenting on the potential introduction of the law, the recently formed UK Pirate Party said that the government had bowed to pressure from the recording industry. “Yet again the Government have done exactly what the big media cartel have told them. There is still no hint of a real discussion on the rights and wrongs of file sharing, or that the strong arguments in favour of legalistion will be given fair consideration,” the party said in blog post.

Former digital minister Tom Watson MP has also said that the government’s new hard-line approach to file-sharing could lead to accusations of undue interference from industry.

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