The Mozilla Foundation has started a petition to stop the French government from forcing browsers like Mozilla’s Firefox to censor websites. “It would set a dangerous precedent, providing a playbook for other governments to also turn browsers like Firefox into censorship tools,” says the organization. “The government introduced the bill to parliament shortly before the summer break and is hoping to pass this as quickly and smoothly as possible; the bill has even been put on an accelerated procedure, with a vote to take place this fall.” You can add your name to their petition here.
The bill in question is France’s SREN Bill, which sets a precarious standard for digital freedoms by empowering the government to compile a list of websites to be blocked at the browser level. The Mozilla Foundation warns that this approach “is uncharted territory” and could give oppressive regimes an operational model that could undermine the effectiveness of censorship circumvention tools.
“Rather than mandate browser based blocking, we think the legislation should focus on improving the existing mechanisms already utilized by browsers — services such as Safe Browsing and Smart Screen,” says Mozilla. “The law should instead focus on establishing clear yet reasonable timelines under which major phishing protection systems should handle legitimate website inclusion requests from authorized government agencies. All such requests for inclusion should be based on a robust set of public criteria limited to phishing/scam websites, subject to independent review from experts, and contain judicial appellate mechanisms in case an inclusion request is rejected by a provider.”