The French government published in the country's Official Journal a decree that will require ISPs to block sites that contain or support acts of terrorism and child pornography.
Internet service providers have 24 hours to comply with the official administrative request. The latter can be made without a court order, which means that censoring a site in this context is cleared from any major legal responsibilities.
When a user navigates to a site where access is prohibited, he will be redirected to an informational page coming from the Ministry of the Interior. On this page, the user will be informed of the grounds for blocking and may also see some suggestions of possible remedies.
Blocked sites will be reviewed quarterly to know if the offending material is no longer present. Should there be any extra costs that will be incurred to execute the blocking, ISPs can request compensation from the French government. If the authorities find that the blocked pages have removed the offending material after the quarterly review, they can tell the ISPs to unblock the sites. Still, they have 24 hours to do the procedure.
The decree states "the terms of the financial compensation granted by the State to the ISP due to charges that the implementation of this procedure poses to them."
The list of sites with offensive material will be established by the Ministry of the Interior through the OCLCTIC (Office Central de Lutte Contre la Criminalité Liée aux Technologies de I'Information et de la Communication / Central Office for the Fight Against Crime Linked to Information Technology and Communication). There is also a mention of the delisting of sites, as ordered by the police, and the imposition of heavy penalties, such as serving a prison term of seven years to those who are found to have broadcast terrorist-related contents.
The decree implements the provisions contained in both the LOPPSI Act of 2011 and the Terrorism Act of 2014. Both these acts received huge opposition from the La Quadrature du Net, a French digital rights advocacy group.
"Website blocking is ineffective since it is easily circumvented," said Felix Tréguer, founding member of La Quadrature du Net. "We must now bring this decree before the French Council of State to get it overturned."