Monitoring of cyberspace in France has a balanced and reasonable level. Child pornography websites, terrorism propagators, hate speech and violators of copyright laws do not fit into French cyberspace.
The Freedom House, which annually ranks free Internet in various countries around the world, ranked France 6th in the world in 2013. This is despite the fact that the rating has dropped sharply in recent years and reached the 12th rank.
Former French Interior Minister, Bruno Le Roux, on the sidelines of a cyber-security summit in Lille, said last January that authorities responsible for overseeing the Internet in France, during the year 2016, ordered the blocking of more than 2,700 websites promoting violent content and extremism.
At the conference, Le Roux also stated that regarding government’s official request demanding the ban of 834 active website, they are going to put the request in action and block the access of such websites on search engines.
The statistics provided by Bruno Le Roux indicate a relative shift in the approach of French statesmen to the issue of Internet freedom in recent years.
France has always increased its monitoring of media and its citizens at some critical historical levels. Now, with the growing expansion of cyberspace and the Internet, this monitoring and control has also entered that field.
The legal mechanism of Internet restrictions in France
According to a law passed in France in 2011, its national cyberspace authorities can order the blocking of a website without a court order. However, the law was not formally implemented until January 2015, before the ISIL invaded the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
Increasing concern and narrowing the surveillance ring
The US presidential election of 2016, and the accusation of Russia's attempt to influence the process of this great event, led many Western governments and US allies to revise the standards of freedom and monitor the activities of online websites and social media.
Although the unprecedented increase in the publication of fake news and media waves in social networks did not affect the outcome of the French presidential election in 2017, it raised fears about the potential of these media to create serious political currents among French politicians.
Emmanuel Macron, who was targeted in mass media during the pre-election period, made a proposal in January 2018 to formulate a new framework for widespread campaigning against such destructive activities.
Recent changes to the global equilibrium environment and the emerging actors, such as hackers and media activists, have redefined many concepts, such as privacy, freedom, and oversight in various societies, including the West.
Now, the French regulatory authorities have put publishing fake news and implementing information operations to achieve specific political goals, along with propaganda of Salafist groups, the spread of violence, extremism, hatred and child pornography among their red lines.