France is walking down a shady path towards censorship. Recently, the Finance Committee of the French Senate signed off on an attachment to the national gaming measure which would place restrictions upon search engines in displaying results for online gaming companies not registered under France’s regulatory system. Read more.
This highly controversial move has sparked a response from the European Commission which has expressed that this would be in violation of the European treaty.
Undoubtedly, the reason behind the censorship is to control which online gaming sites France’s residents are permitted to access, and exclude ones that are unregulated, but is censorship really the answer? A better question is has censorship worked in the past?
China was able to press upon Google a similar type of censorship. Under pressure from the Chinese government Google eventually gave in to the Chinese demands. Perhaps this is the example that France is hoping to emulate. Ironically, France does have a long history of governmental censorship, but that was way back in the 17th century. From the 50’s to the 70’s there was strong governmental control over television and radio, but one would assume the French, known for their liberalism in most things, have moved past that age. Apparently, one would be wrong in assuming so.
As it stands, the French continue to advance the online gambling bill despite threats of infringement charges from the European Commission. This situation may get worse before it gets better. History has shown that unwanted censorship leads to, yeah, you guessed it, revolt and upheaval. Particularly when you’re talking about the internet, a free space, that the average person should have the right to explore without prejudice, the fallout from this could be immense. You can expect online gaming entities affected by this bill to rally the troops as well as internet rights groups and don’t forget the citizens of France, who will likely have their say before this is all over.
My feeling is if this is allowed to pass, what’s next? Censorship of religion on the internet? Censorship of porn? Where does it end? I’m not French, in fact, the only thing French I do is fries and kiss, but sign me up for the resistance.