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French government pushes through Internet censorship law

François Hollande Socialist Party has pushed through new legislation in France, forcing internet service providers to block terrorist or child pornography content within 24 hours, or face potential fines.

The move comes after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, which has changed the mood of the French public towards government control on the internet, allowing this bill to be passed when it previously was shot down.

Every quarter the General Directorate of the National Police will overview offending sites to check if their offending content has been removed, and might ask for a repeal of the ban if the site has changed its ways.

Little resistance was shown against the bill, but some privacy advocates believe this one foot in the door will allow the French government complete control over the narrative, removing freedom of speech.

The new law is part of a larger move in Europe to bring more government control on the internet. The European Union recently voted on a "terrorist site reporting" program, allowing the EU to be notified if a site is showcasing terrorist activity or promoting violence.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently tried his own hand at the internet surveillance battle, claiming government and authority should have the right to backdoor internet encryption, a comment even US President Obama didn't agree with.

Labeling something as "terrorism" is very subjective, especially when it is the government's police force handpicking the sites. It could turn into a way for police to remove content offending the French government or leaking information.

"With this decree establishing the administrative censorship for Internet content, France once again circumvents the judicial power, betraying the separation of powers in limiting what is the first freedom of all in a democracy—freedom of speech." said digital rights group La Quadrature du Net. "Website blocking is ineffective since it is easily circumvented. It is also disproportionate because of the risk of over-blocking perfectly lawful content, especially with the blocking technique retained by the Government."