We had been noting, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, how the country that then held a giant “free speech” rally appeared to be, instead, focusing on cracking down on free speech at every opportunity. And target number one: the internet. Earlier this week, the Interior Minister of France — with no court review or adversarial process — ordered five websites to not only be blocked in France, but that anyone who visits any of the sites get redirected to a scary looking government website, saying:
You are being redirected to this official website since your computer was about to connect with a page that provokes terrorist acts or condones terrorism publicly.
It appears that the French government has a very low opinion of the intelligence of the French public — believing that merely reading something online will suddenly make them rush to join ISIS.
“I do not want to see sites that could lead people to take up arms on the Internet,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
“I make a distinction between freedom of expression and the spread of messages that serve to glorify terrorism. These hate messages are a crime.”
Except… it already appears that France is really just censoring websites with messages it doesn’t like. In that first batch was a site called “islamic-news.info.” The owner of that site not only notes that he was never first contacted to “remove” whatever material was deemed terrorist supporting (as required by the law), but that nothing in what he had posted was supporting terrorism.