France passed a law today banning nonprofessional journalists from recording or reporting on violent acts. The law is sure to come down hard on bloggers and other citizen journalistsâ€”and the webmasters that publish their stories.
During parliamentary debate of the law, government representatives said the offense of filming or distributing films of acts of violence targets the practice of “happy slapping,” in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends.
The penalty for recording or publishing acts of violence is up to five years in prison and 75,000 euros. Depending on the violent act, the penalty for recording or publishing could be heavier than for the act itself.
I can see the reasoning behind the law and I certainly don’t want the Internet to be the medium of choice for snuff films and other violent acts. But it’s still a disconcerting law.
Not as disconcerting as another proposal before the body:
The government has also proposed a certification system for Web sites, blog hosters, mobile-phone operators and Internet service providers, identifying them as government-approved sources of information if they adhere to certain rules.
Oh, perfect. Will we start referring to France as “China: Europe”?