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France takes third swing at 'three-strikes' law

The human right to the interwebs

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France's controversial "three-strikes" internet law is getting another do-over. Originally rejected by the country's National Assembly, revised then declared unconstitutional, the anti-file sharer bill has yet again been revamped and passed for consideration by the French constitutional court.

The new version of the bill, like its predecessors, is intended to temporarily disconnect individuals from the internet if they are accused of online copyright infringement three times.

France's Constitutional Council had previously found the state agency created to track and punish violators — known by the acronym Hadopi — lacks authority to shut down web access. The council determined citizens deserve a court hearing before they are barred from the internet, arguing net access is a human right.

Under the revised bill, the agency would now report offenders to a judge upon the third accusation. The judge would have a choice of either handing down an internet ban, ordering a fine of up to 300,000 Euros ($419,000, £260,000), or imposing a two-year prison sentence under a fast-track ruling system.

Opposition lawmakers still complain that the bill gives internet users too little a chance to challenge an accusation of online piracy.

The bill is scheduled for debate July 21. ®

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