French Court: Access to Internet is Basic Human Right

300px-Eugène_Delacroix_-_La_liberté_guidant_le_peupleFrance’s highest court, the Constitutional Council, has ruled that access to the Internet is a basic human right in a decision striking down a key component of the a new internet piracy law by the Sarkozy administration.

The new law creates HADOPI, an agency that would track abusers of the Internet and cut off their access after two warnings. It is primarily designed not to stop spam and scams but people who download material illegally.
Known at the “wise men” or Les Sages, the council ruled that “free access to public communication services online” is protected in the Declaration of Human Rights which is part of the French constitution.

The controversy has produced an interesting political shift. Artists who normally fight against governmental controls over free speech and open forums of communications supported the law. They insisted that people were stealing their music and art and should be barred from the Internet. However, the law also gave this agency nearly unchecked authority to mete out punishments.

The ruling also reflects how important the Internet has become as the primary form of communication and information for citizens around the world.

While the media has reported the opinion as protecting access as a human right, some of our readers who are French indicate that the opinion may not be as sweeping as suggested. They note that much of the opinion objected to the role of the agency. The Internet is an avenue used to fulfill a basic human right but could still, they suggest, be terminated.

For those of you who can read French, here is the opinion.
For the full story, click here.

20 thoughts on “French Court: Access to Internet is Basic Human Right”

  1. Once any government installs Internet censorship architecture, it will never ‘go away’ and it will continue to grow uncontrollably along with a bloated bureaucracy.

    Thanks Buddha, for getting us back on topic.

  2. Has come back to be of service. How may I help the ailing?

  3. Patty C

    If this is the real Patty C and not the Hijacker masquerading as the nice Patty C, or Patty C. or PattyCq

    Who cares, what you think?

    Jill is somebody special, it takes a person with no respect for themselves to treat people the way that you do.

    By her own admission she is ‘trailer trash’ so what. I know of a president that is still living whom claims to have been born not in a hospital. Does that make him any less of a person to you much less a President that I do indeed respect?

    She is not especially well liked. This I would vehemently disagree with and so would a number of other folks.

    I think that it is time for the professor to do what he said and ban the troubled and troublemakers.

    I am please that you found this site. I guess the professor is please that others have found it as well. You know if you were not so negative you would be better received.

    Please take out all of your frustrations out on me. I can take it leave all of the others alone. You remind me of someone who has a substance abuse problem whether it be alcohol or chemicals. Next month I will have almost 2 years since I came into the program. If this is your issue, think about it.

    You may be an Original Turlee but you are far from the best. That role has been taken over by a number of other fine folks. Have the graciousness of some of the other originals and do you part to make this the best site possible.


    p.s AY, you are pathetic if you think you can snag any desirable woman this way.

    Patty C, I think you are crossing the line, but you may be correct. If the choices were a deserted island with you or hell, I presume I would take the latter rather than the former as it could indeed be difficult to distinguish the two.

    Although in retrospect, Jill may actually be exactly your kinda gal.

    She just maybe. Are you that jealous of someone that can express a point without attacking the person? That take on a new art form or class, clearly something you indeed are lacking.

    Good luck on that one as well. I

    I thank you and would you please pray for me as well.

    I am sure that some of you are going to be upset with me about my most recent interaction with this Patty C, not sure who it is this time. I was amused that there are some posts, pleasant posts on here by a Patty C, this morning almost commented, but I did not wish to get accused of hijacking her name again.

    So if any one has a problem with me or this T.S.


  4. Jill,

    without having to read another blog. What is this that you propose. Thank you in advance.

  5. I would think that ACCESS to the internet is a right stemming from the right of free speech and free association, along the lines of rights to publish and peaceably assemble. Of course that is American Constitutional law.
    So although such access should be legally guaranteed, it does not put the burden of getting access to a citizen upon the government, it just means that no legal entity can interfere with a citizen’s right to access to internet.

    As far as intellectual property theft is concerned – that is a crime that is independent and parallel to accessing the internet.

    The fact that it is a crime should not affect the means by which the theft took place.
    The crime itself should be prosecuted, but the carrier should not be imputed as inherently needful of regulation.

  6. raph:

    Remercier vous pour le votre perspicacités. Comme ay i aussi apprécier votre poteaux, svp continuer. Svp excuse les pauvres Français.

  7. Raph:

    I like your posts, I read the other one too about Sotomayor. And I think you are correct. Please keep posting.

  8. Well we have become the UN of law blogs. That is high praise indeed. What other blog gets legal perspectives from Australia to France to Canada to the US and back again. Given our No. 1 ranking among the blawg world, it appears the best, do indeed, never rest!

  9. Jim,

    Saying that phrasing takes into account information theory is like saying a pie is about the edge of the crust.

  10. Sir,

    As a french lawyer I respecfully disagree withy you.“free access to public communication services online” is not protected in the Declaration of Human Rights which is part of the French constitution in itself. It is private life that is at stake and free speech.

    This is the conclusion I come to after reading the decision itself

    More pecisely:

    1-Private data were kept and diclosed only in case of a formal trial. With the new Hadopi law an administrative entity, not a judge, can have access to these data after a single demand.
    In other words judges are rendered useless. The french high court does not condemn all of this but states that another autonomous adlinistrative instance in charge of protecting the private data of citizens, called the CNIL (“Commission informatique et liberté” ie “Liberté and IT vommission”) whould give before hand its green light…

    So inother words, french citizens are not so well protected.

    2-The constituionnal court declared uncosntituionnal the sanctions attached to the newly created autonomous administrative authority. Here this authority will not have the right to cancel internet connections. A judge will have to do it. (when you know that there are only 15000 judges inf rance for 65 millions inhabitants…)
    Here free speech is protected by the judge as a link has been clearly established.

    Internet is not a fundamental right but the means to achieve the funamental right of free speech (and freedom of ideas).

    This last idea is quite funny as you are not without knowing that in france free speech is not so much protected. We have laws that forbid people to pronounce “hate speech” and that can go quite far, such as condemning an historian just because he does not think that slavery from 1492 to 1848 should not be the only salvery to becounted a a crime against humanity but that definition also include the current the islamic slave trade as well as the slavery inside africa…

    Again with this decision we see tall the political implication of consitutionnal law. Amricans: you are not alone:)

  11. Buddha,

    Our Founding Fathers did consider the importance of access to information/knowledge.

    The Northwest Ordinance was enacted in 1787 and renewed by our 1st Congress.

    “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

    I found the way it was worded to be historically important when compared to the Second Amendment.

    “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

  12. This creates an interesting situation-property rights vs. free speech.

    Access to the internet is not a right unless you can figure out how to get on on your own. An internet provider has no legal reason to grant access to anyone unless they pay for the service the provider renders.

    The artists are right though in the sense that they are entitled to the fruits of their labor and downloading and copying songs or books, etc, should be illegal. Although I am surprised no one has come up with some code to prevent sharing of digital music files.

    Restriction of internet access should be left to the individual sites and not the government.

  13. Had our Founding Father’s been aware of information theory, I have little doubt they would have included a Right to Information Affecting the Commons as well as a stronger definition of privacy and it’s appropriate protections. But since they didn’t, all I can say is c’est la vie.

  14. Hey now since Al Gore created the internet this should all be public domain.

  15. Meanwhile in the good old USA, we have the wonderful Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    It is illegal to steal deer from the king’s forest.

Comments are closed.