French law endangers internet freedom, warns Mozilla

French law endangers internet freedom, warns Mozilla

French Government’s Proposed Law Threatens the Free Internet, Warns Mozilla

The French government is at the cusp of passing a new law named SREN, aimed at combating online fraud. However, the approach outlined in this bill has raised alarms among internet freedom advocates. The specific concern revolves around a requirement for web browsers to block sites listed on a government-provided list. Critics argue that this provision will essentially turn browsers into censorship tools, endangering the principles of a free and open internet.

Mozilla, the creator of the Firefox browser, is one of the most vocal opponents of this bill. The non-profit organization argues that the proposed law would have catastrophic consequences for the internet as we know it. In a blog post, Udbhav Tiwari, the head of global product policy at Mozilla, expressed his concern about the implications of such a move.

Such an action by the French government would not only overturn decades of established content moderation norms but also empower autocratic regimes with a playbook to silence dissent. It would undermine the existence of censorship circumvention tools and provide a technical framework for governments to restrict or criminalize anything they desire within their jurisdiction.

Tiwari suggests an alternative approach to tackling online fraud that does not compromise internet freedom. Instead of integrating government block lists within browsers, he recommends leveraging existing malware and phishing protection solutions. By using these established tools, users can be protected from online threats without sacrificing the fundamental principles of internet openness.

The fear exhibited by Mozilla and other internet activists is that if France implements this law, it could set a dangerous precedent. The technical capabilities within browsers for website blocking created to combat fraud today could easily be exploited to restrict or censor any content in the future, depending on the desires of different governments. This slipperiness on which Tiwari emphasizes poses a severe risk to the freedom of expression and information.

Despite the concerns raised by Mozilla and other organizations, it appears that the French government intends to move forward with the legislation. The bill is currently being fast-tracked, with plans to vote on the proposals in the autumn. In response to the impending threat, Mozilla has launched a petition to gather support against the plan, urging individuals to sign and join the fight to protect internet freedom. The petition seeks to raise awareness and demonstrate the widespread opposition to the bill.

It is essential that individuals and organizations alike understand the potential consequences of this legislation in France and beyond. The protection of a free and open internet should be a priority for all. By signing the petition, individuals can contribute to preserving the principles upon which the internet was built and ensure that governments do not repurpose technology to suppress dissent and limit access to information.


To sign the petition against the SREN bill, click here. Let your voice be heard in defense of a free and open internet.