The Mozilla Foundation has started a petition to stop the French government from adopting the SREN bill, which would force browsers to censor websites.
The new bill by the French government would enable authorities to provide a list of websites to browser providers that would be required to be blocked on the browser level.
Voting for the bill is planned for the fall, and the Foundation is urging users to sign the petition against its legislation.
While the bill is well-intentioned, aiming to combat fraud and online harassment and to ensure the protection of minors from accessing online pornography, the critics argue that it’s a dangerous move that could set a global precedent for censoring freedom of expression. The bill has also been criticized for placing restrictions beyond those outlined in the EU's Digital Services Act (DSA).
“It would set a dangerous precedent, providing a playbook for other governments to also turn browsers like Firefox into censorship tools,” wrote the Mozilla Foundation on their website.
The Foundation claims that, while motivated by a legitimate concern, the move to block websites directly within the browser would be ‘disastrous’ for the open internet and disproportionate to its goals.
“It will also set a worrying precedent and create technical capabilities that other regimes will leverage for far more nefarious purposes,” writes the non-profit organization in its blog.
Mozilla advocates for a strategy that involves harnessing existing malware and phishing protection mechanisms instead of substituting them with government-provided block lists on the device level. According to organization, this approach offers a more promising path to realizing the goals set forth by the legislation.
Law to give access to devices’ cameras
It is not the first time French authorities have found themselves in the midst of deliberations concerning controversial laws that would infringe on privacy and freedom of expression.
In June, the Senate approved a justice bill provision that would allow law enforcement to activate cameras and microphones on a suspect’s devices without notifying the device's owners, along with geolocation data tracking.
Officials are looking to target organized crime and terrorism with the controversial provision. However, critics believe that the invasive power given to police is disproportionate. The move has sparked widespread criticism among civil rights advocates and organizations, who view it as a potentially grave encroachment on privacy.
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