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French ISPs to carry the can for dodgy content

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The French government is being urged to change legislation which would make ISPs legally responsible for any content they carry.

Activists including Reporters Without Borders, the Union of Judges and the Odebi League have written to Nicolas Sarkozy, the minister of economy, finance and industry urging him to reconsider. As it stands, ISPs would be responsible for censoring Internet content.

The dispute relates to the Bill to Promote Confidence in the Digital Economy, known as the LEN. The LEN makes Internet hosts legally responsible for all content. French legislators say the law is required to bring the country into line with the European Union directive on ecommerce.

Opponents point out that Italy and Spain made a "competent body" responsible for censorship - and Belguim granted these powers to the state prosecutor. They claim the law has been "massively rejected by Internet users and all those who defend individual freedoms. We have unfortunately found until now that, while account has often been taken of private sector grievances, civil society has not been sufficiently involved". Reporters Without Borders wants to meet the minister to set its their objections and offer recomendations to resolve the issue.

Sarkozy is described by MEDEF, the French CBI, as "the Zidane of Finance". ®

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