The French Senate has given overwhelming support to a controversial new anti-piracy initiative that, if passed as law, would lead to internet access bans to users who illegally download copyright material.
297 senators voted for the bill with only 15 opposing, meaning that the final vote will now be taken to the French National Assembly. The bill had previously been rejected by the EU and has received heated criticism by foreign politicians as a crime against civil liberties.
If passed as an Act, a governmental body (called The High Authority for the Diffusion of Works and Protection of Internet Rights) would be established and given the authority to suspend or ban internet access to the French public on grounds of suspicious behaviour.
As the bill has been recycled through French Parliament a number of times, specific details of the bill remain unclear for now. The bill originally proposed that The High Authority would receive information of suspicious internet users via ISPs, who would be forced to send information of ‘high volume users’.
If a suspect is found to be illegally downloading copyrighted material, The High Authority will initiate a strike. Three strikes and the user’s dwelling will have no access to the internet.
The UK’s Green Party has recently criticised the idea of a similar policy in the UK, branding it as "an attack on civil liberties".