In the year 2001 a battle brewed over a controversial French plan, of which many peaple said "it will have a detrimental impact on Internet freedom".
The French government released a long-anticipated draft Law on
the Information Society ("Loi sur Société de l'Information" or LSI). Under this proposal, the Internet service providers (ISPs) would in that moment be made civilly liable when they had been informed of apparently illegal content and had not deleted this content or denied access to it. This circle of liability should be applied not only to host providers, but also to access providers and
telecom operators. In effect, this law cemented the free speech restrictions that were issued in a -then recent- French Court ruling against the Internet portal Yahoo. The plan would also curb anonymous free speech by allowing the government to request ISPs to keep log files on their customers' activities for up to one year. In addition, the draft Law would force individuals to grant the government access to private encryption keys,
and would place import/export restrictions on encryption software.
The draft Law received considerable criticism, which pointed
out that while the proposal was intending to implement the European Electronic Commerce Directive. The text of the plan seemed to go far beyond the Directive's provisions. IRIS also criticized the provisions regarding 1-year retentions of customer log files, arguing that they contradicted the recommendations of France's own data protection authority for a three month limit. These difficulties were likely to be debated by the
National Assembly in the fall; the bill itself might not be enacted until next year.
Indeed, the draft Law could become a serious issue in France's
upcoming Presidential and National Assembly elections.