France Bans Citizens from Reporting Violence
France has made it a crime for anyone other than a “professional journalist” to tape violent crimes.
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.
Why do the French hate freedom so? Well, it turns out that they’ve merely taken a sledgehammer to a mosquito:
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 attacker’s friends.
One would think that it would be easier to simply pass a law against battery, no? Of course if–as I strongly suspect–it’s already illegal in France to violently attack perfect strangers without provocation, it’s not clear why adding an additional penalty for filming it would curb the practice.
But not to worry: You may soon be able to get a license.
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.
I think the Soviet Union had something like that, too.
Judging by the responses at Memeorandum, this law is getting assailed from all quarters. Damian Penny, Michael van der GaliÃ«n, Agonist’s Ian Walsh, Rand Simberg, Callimachus, and Irish Trojan’s David K., have weighed in so far. None, to put it mildly, think this a good idea.