Free speech is dying and states are killing it. In their zeal to destroy any potential challenge to their power, err, protect us from the terrorists states have been drafting more laws that speech they don’t approve of illegal. France is taking the next step. President Francois Hollande will introduce legislation that would hold Google, Facebook, and other sites that allows comments legally responsible for what users say:
(Bloomberg) — The French government is stepping up the pressure on Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. to help in the struggle against terrorist groups.
President Francois Hollande said Tuesday in Paris the government will present a draft law next month that makes Internet operators “accomplices” of hate-speech offenses if they host extremist messages. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he will travel to the U.S. to seek help from the heads of Twitter Inc. and Microsoft Corp. as well as Google and Facebook. Spokesmen for the companies did not immediately return requests for comment.
In other words, censor any speech he don’t like or face the wrath of the French legal system (which is pretty wrathful when it comes to persecuting Muslims or Romani). With enough legalese one could argue that this law isn’t an abridgement of free speech because companies, not the state, would be charged with the task of censorship. But with enough legalese I could argue that gravity is not longer in effect. Legalese is bullshit.
This is a clear abridgement of free speech by holding the state’s gun to the heads of companies that enable communication. And while it’s being marketed as a means of controlling hate-speech we all know that hate-speech is defined by the state and therefore can be used by it to censor anything it wants.
The story noted that spokespersons from any of the major companies that would be impacted by this law didn’t return any comments. Hopefully they’re all preparing comments that are variations on, “Go fuck yourself, Hollande.” Because that’s the only proper response to this law.