French Ministry of Interior wants to ban open wifi, Tor

A leaked memo from the Ministry sets out new bills it would like to see introduced into the French Parliament as early as next month, setting out an ambitious plan to block privacy tools, something only technically possible by recreating China's Great Firewall in a European democracy, spying on all networked activity to prevent the use of Tor.

It's possible that the French Parliament would stop short of that, and merely criminalise the use of Tor without taking technical measures to prevent it. This would mean that terrorists who used Tor would also be committing an offense under the bill. Maybe the Ministry feels that while committing acts of mass slaughter that end with your own suicide are considered valid tactics by their adversaries, the thought of breaking a law about which network protocols are allowed would be a step too far.

Criminalising the provision of open wifi might scare law-abiding people off from helping their neighbours, and thus deprive some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in France of access to the single connection that delivers free speech, a free press, free association and access to community, jobs, education, and tools. Terrorists, meanwhile, will just have to buy burner phones, or run WEP crackers, or use proxies.

As Sebastian Anthony points out, the biggest risk here is that the contagion of police-state network laws will spread to the rest of Europe once it's normalised in France. The rules, after all, are not much more illiberal than those proposed under the UK Snooper's Charter.

On November 20, a week after the attacks in Paris, France introduced new legislation that extended the current state of emergency to three months. At the same time, new laws were also introduced to make it easier for the Minister of the Interior to block any terrorism-related website, and to dramatically increase police powers for searching seized devices. The French prime minister suggested that they may soon make it illegal to merely visit a terrorism-related website, too.

Come January 2016 we'll see if the French government actually goes ahead with these new Tor and Wi-Fi blocking measures.

France looking at banning Tor, blocking public Wi-Fi
[Sebastian Anthony/Ars Technica]