PM rules out ban on public Wifi

PM rejects police call to ban Wifi during state of emergency declared after Paris terror attacks

9 December 2015

UPDATE - A BAN on Wifi internet access will not be introduced as part of new security measures in response to the Paris attacks in November, the Prime Minister has said.

Police had called on the government to introduce a law aimed at “forbidding Wifi free and shared connections” to make it harder for terrorists to communicate. Internet network provider Tor, which provides online anonymity to users and does not disclose their location, was also targeted by security forces who wanted to “ban and block” the network’s communications in France.

The premier Manuel Valls said "a ban on Wifi is not a course of action envisaged" by the government. Nor was he in favour of a ban on Tor, he added.

Police liaison body DLPAJ said the authorities had requested a law enabling them to “require [service] providers to give security forces access codes” that would allow Skype, Whatsapp and Viber users to be monitored.

The prime minister denied any knowledge of such police requests, adding: "Internet is a freedom, is an extraordinary means of communication between people, it is a benefit to the economy."

Mr Valls said he understood the security services' need for tough measures to fight terrorism but stressed that those measures had to be "effective".

The state of emergency has been in force since jihadists murdered 130 people in the capital on 13 November and will be terminated or extended on 26 February. Discussing the possibility of an extension, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said: “We can’t rule out that possibility, depending on the level of danger, and we have to act with a great deal of responsibility.”

France’s emergency law dates back to 1955 and has already been criticised for banning demonstrations. It also permits the government to conduct warrantless searches, put people under house arrest, and seal the country’s borders.

Fears of terrorism have already prompted tighter laws on communications – in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January the government introduced a measure allowing it to spy on the emails and phone calls without court authorisation of anyone linked to terror suspects.

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