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Blogs: An Assault on Internet Anonymity in France?

May 27 2010

The Luxe Chronicles:Mask

Going blogging tonight darling?

There is a battle brewing in France between bloggers and a lone UMP senator, Jean-Louis Masson, over Internet anonymity. Masson has proposed a bill which if it were enacted into law would require French bloggers not only to sign their posts using their full legal name and surname but to provide their personal address and telephone number as well. The law would apply indiscriminately to individuals and organizations alike who blog. Understandably, French bloggers are not pleased.

In the bill's preamble, Masson cites the veritable explosion of blogs in France which places it just behind the U.S., China and Japan in total number of active blogs and world leader in terms of number of blogs per Internet users. The goal is ostensibly to protect against those who hide behind anonymity to spread rumors, publish defamatory statements or generally misuse the medium for personal gain. Bloggers have countered by accusing Masson of wanting to stifle freedom of speech pointing out that many bloggers require anonymity to protect themselves from the wrath of employers in the case of whistle blowers or simply to protect their personal lives.

The bill is not currently backed by either the government or Masson's UMP party and therefore has little chance of making it onto the statutes books. It does however illustrate the growing tension between legislators and the Internet as a medium for creating content, circulating that content and influencing the opinions and behaviors of those who consume it.

Incidentally, as mentioned at the outset, Masson belongs to France's ruling UMP party. This fact would be banal were it not for the recent kerfuffle over the rumors regarding the Sarkozy marriage which originated on Twitter, spread rapidly via the French blogosphere and prompted a very public row with various political figures most notably former Garde des Sceaux (Justice Minister) Rachida Daty.

While I find the proposed legislation heavy handed and frankly misguided in its approach, it does highlight the growing influence of User Generated Content. As the influence of blogs grows, so does the duty of their authors to wield their power responsibly. To whom much is given, much is expected?


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dear helene in my opinion it's a shame that the right of speech is under attack in france and it is a shame as well that some bloggers take advantage of their visibility to promote in a not clearly way some products or brands...I understand that most of the brands are very appealing in terms of invitation to events and so on but I also believe that bloggers should differentiate themselves from the most part of journalists who are at the service of the brands

Some news websites are saying that he is ex-UMP/apparenté UMP. Not a massive difference but it might explain why he hasn't received any party backing.

Helene , I love the image and caption, I would like to ellaborate on the topic which is incredibly relevant and quite serious, but my eyelids will not allow me...I must go to bed! Thank you for another great post.

What is a "shame"? The heavy handed and misguided attempt to regulate the Blogosphere in France or the fact that many bloggers abuse their newfound power and influence? Please explain. I would love to know more about what you think.


it's a shame...

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The Luxe Chronicles is a collection of interviews, profiles and musings on various aspects of the luxury industry and occasionally, a rant on our celebrity obsessed culture and the dumbing down of our collective sense of style and esthetic.

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