New Emergency Bill on table following Paris Attacks; French Police want say on Tor and Wi-Fi Regulations
The French Government is taking necessary moves to fight the War on Terror at home. Following the ISIS terror attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, that claimed the lives of 130 people and wounding hundreds more, legislators are working on two bills that will provide safety measures with greater law enforcement power to prevent future attacks.
Two pieces of legislation in discussion detail a new state of emergency protocol, and a proposal concerning counter-terrorism. In the event these bills pass, they can go into effect as early as January 2016, with such measures increasing police forces and armed guards in public areas as well as tightening border ports, and even private home searches without a warrant.
Additionally, the French police are recommending adding regulations to the bill that will block the use of the free network known as the Tor Project, and create certain closures on Wi-Fi network use.
The police want to block Tor networking in general. This free software and network provides a space online for free speech with the added incentive of complete anonymity to any user. While there have been many discussions worldwide about blocking Tor networking, precedent does exist.
China, for example, currently blocks all connections to known Tor entry nodes, and does so successfully, garnering the name “The Great Firewall of China.”
The Tor Network grew to public fame and spiked with user increases of over five million in half a year, following the revelations of a mass surveillance program made by Edward Snowden in 2013. The network was used to make the leak and has since become a very popular hub for journalists, whistleblowers and people who want to have privacy in their online use.
But there are critiques who feel that this network can become a cesspool for pedophiles, hackers and other cybercriminals, and in the case of Paris, a network for terrorists to meet, plan and even recruit. There are many “bridges” between countries that blacklist the network, where private conversations take place, that go unregulated and unknown. China has cracked down on these opportunities with their great firewall. Law Enforcement would like to see this, but the French do not have any other models to learn from than the Chinese.
This move to regulate could also have pushback from the public because it may be seen as a violation of basic human rights including the freedom of speech. The network is maintained by volunteers today, who route a user’s traffic through several different points, to conceal the original IP address. It was a project established by the United States but now is attempting to stand alone with volunteer funding. Blocking such a project could potentially be regarded as unconstitutional, according to the French Directorate of Civil Liberties and Legal Affairs (DLPAJ).
If the French government is able to pass these bills, including legislation blocking or even monitoring Tor networks, then it may be possible that the internet service provider will be able to alert authorities when a user is on an anonymous network, even though, the websites will not be known. However, nothing is in the legislation and it is not clear what the next step will be. With tensions still high and the terror alerts in place, the conversation will continue to be the hot topic in Europe.