France bans citizen journalists from reporting violence

March 8th, 2007

By Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.

The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday on the night of March 3, 1991. The officers acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

Dear oh dear; France is not in the USA you simpleton. They have their own problems, their own anniversaire mauvaise; why on earth do you think that Rodney ‘cant we all jus get along’ King has anything whatsoever to do with FRANCE.

If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 (US$98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.

There you are. I found one for you and linked it for you. No need for a bogus transcontinental Rodney King anniversary after all.

Senators and members of the National Assembly had asked the council to rule on the constitutionality of six articles of the Law relating to the prevention of delinquency. The articles dealt with information sharing by social workers, and reduced sentences for minors. The council recommended one minor change, to reconcile conflicting amendments voted in parliament. The law, proposed by Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, is intended to clamp down on a wide range of public order offenses. 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 attackers friends.

‘happy slapping’… a British Invention I believe.

The broad drafting of the law so as to criminalize the activities of citizen journalists unrelated to the perpetrators of violent acts is no accident, but rather a deliberate decision by the authorities, said Cohet. He is concerned that the law, and others still being debated, will lead to the creation of a parallel judicial system controlling the publication of information on the Internet.

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. The journalists organization Reporters Without Borders, which campaigns for a free press, has warned that such a system could lead to excessive self censorship as organizations worried about losing their certification suppress certain stories.


France has a long history of getting the internets wrong. They banned 128bit crypto, and then reversed its policy when someone pointed out to them that it was the basis of all e-commerce.

There are lots of other stuff too. Google it. France is not perfect. No country is. But I can tell you right now that France, and in particular Paris as a place that welcomes people and that is human in its feeling is about ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES SUPERIOR to anywhere in the us or the uk.

I am loath to take the side of Paris bureau chief Peter Sayer who Reports on ‘Services; Enterprise hardware; Apple’ when it comes to pointing the finger at a country for passing repressive laws. Interesting; Sayer is in Paris, but cant find an example of french police repression being filmed. hmmmm anyway, I have no idea wether this guy is an american or not. If he is, he should STFU about france and go drink a tizane. He is in one of the most beautiful cities on earth, in a country that is one of the last decent places in the west. Concentrate on your own myriad problems.

In any case, as we have seen, France can change its mind for the good. They will do it, so lay off Bon Rien american!

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