France could ban free Wi-Fi networks and Tor in wake of Paris attacks


Madhumita Murgia

December 7, 2015

Police want two proposed pieces of legislation to forbid the use of free Wi-Fi and anonymous browsers like Tor in general

The French police are reportedly proposing that new laws ban the use of free WiFi services and anonymous browsers such as Tor.

The proposals, which are part of an internal document seen by French national newspaper Le Monde, could be enacted in two proposed bills – one on the State of Emergency and the other on combating counter-terrorism in general.

It lists all the administrative security measures that the police want incorporated into the 2016 bills.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, the law enforcement authorities propose that the government forbid the use of free or shared Wi-Fi during a state of emergency, which is hard to track. They suggest that those who do not disconnect from public Wi-Fi networks should face criminal penalties.

They are also proposing that anonymous networks like the Tor browser, used worldwide by human rights activists and criminals alike, be blocked, and encryption keys to communication services (WhatsApp and iMessage are encrypted for instance) be handed over to police by internet service providers – at any time.

According to Le Monde, the document notes that French Department of Civil Liberties and Legal Affairs has questioned whether banning services like Tor in peacetime might violate the French Constitution.

The Paris attack has ignited debates among governments around the world on whether encryption needs a security backdoor, despite the fact that police have discovered that the perpetrators of November’s Paris attacks used unencrypted text messages to coordinate.

The British government is currently considering draft legislation known as the Investigatory Powers Bill, which proposes among other measures, a way for legal authorities to access encrypted data from tech companies and ISPs, to combat terrorism and crime.

If France is successful in banning Tor, it could be the first European country to do so. The only other places the anonymous web browser has been blocked are China and Iran, while the Russian government has said publicly that it wants to follow suit.

According to Le Monde, the legislations could be approved as early as January 2016.

This article was written by Madhumita Murgia from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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