France: Limited internet ‘should be option’

An official government advisory body in France has clarified that it did not suggest stopping unlimited internet contracts in its recently published report, but wanted to encourage the market to propose more green options.

18 July 2020
A guide to green internet published by a government advisory body caused controversy in France
By Thomas Brent

Le Conseil National du Numérique published a 50-point guide at the beginning of July outlining a transition to more environmentally friendly internet use. One point, which seemed to suggest putting an end to unlimited fixed internet contracts that are the norm in France, was picked up by media outlets last week and caused a small scandal on Twitter. 

Critics of the suggestion argued that limiting data usage may make it more difficult for people to work from home, which, for example, has a positive environmental impact as it reduces the need for commuting. 

In France, as in most of the world, a vast majority of home internet packages offer unlimited internet use. Mobile data packages often include limited internet use options. 

In a press release published after the report stirred up controversy, the body clarified that it had never intended to suggest stopping unlimited internet contracts entirely, but for internet providers to offer customers a wider range of internet packages that could include limited internet for those who are concerned about their carbon footprint. 

“Our planet's resources are not unlimited. We therefore believe that all internet users must reflect on their environmental footprint. This means giving citizens the means to reflect on their uses. It is with this in mind that our recommendation fits in,” the press release reads.

“We want to encourage the market to propose more virtuous offers, with the emphasis on 'green' packages, in addition to those existing today, and adapted to those who can and wish to consume less and are concerned about their environmental footprint or wish to control their internet use. This measure is part of a panel of other measures to offer accountability to internet users."

The Conseil National du Numérique has said that making limited internet packages available in France would only make sense if applied in accordance with other measures and a general move towards “adopting digital restraint”.

Other suggested measures in the dossier include limiting web browsers’ ability to pre-load information by running in the background. This process allows the browsers to anticipate where internet users will want to go, so they can present relevant pages quicker.  

The advisors have also suggested reducing the amount of energy that electrical devices use.

Read more on tech and internet in France:

Better phone signal in France: Is your town on 2020’s list?

Should people in France be worried about 5G?

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