AOH :: PT-1435.HTM

France bans citizens from recording violence, Web sites from reproducing videos

France bans citizens from recording violence, Web sites from reproducing videos
France bans citizens from recording violence, Web sites from reproducing videos

Background on "happy slapping": 

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: France bans citizen journalists from reporting violence
Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2007 08:57:02 -0700
From: Richard Smith  

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes 
the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than 
professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of 
eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites 
publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday=2E

Apparenly there's little mention of it in the mainstream french media. 
You can read the press release from Odebi here (in french): 

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: FRANCE : New prevention of criminality law poses threat to 
citizen  reporting / FRANCE : Loi sur la  pr=E9vention de la d=E9linquance , 
un risque pour  l'information citoyenne
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 16:46:56 +0100
From: rsf.Internet  

English / fran=E7ais

Reporters Without Borders / Internet Freedom desk



Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today
about a new French law on the prevention of
criminality following its approval by the
constitutional council on 5 March. "The sections
of this law supposedly dealing with 'happy
slapping' in fact have a much broader scope, and
posting videos online showing violence against
people could now be banned, even if it were the
police who were carrying out the violence," the
organisation said.

"We make no assumptions about the government's
intentions and we recognise the need to prevent
the spread of 'happy slapping,' but this law
introduces a dangerous distinction between
professional journalists, allowed to disseminate
images of violence, and ordinary citizens, who
could be jailed for the same thing," Reporters
Without Borders continued.

"It is particularly regrettable that the law
would forbid the online distribution of images
showing acts of violence by the security forces,"
the press freedom organisation added.

The law on the prevention of criminality
which was adopted on 13 February, was referred to
the constitutional council by the socialist group
in parliament. The referral did not specifically
concern the section dealing with 'happy slapping.'

The law provides for sentences of up to five
years in prison and fines of 75,000 euros for
disseminating images concerning the offences
listed in 222-1 to 222-14-1 and 222-23 to 222-31
of the criminal code. These offences range from
acts of serious violence ("torture" and "acts of
barbarity") to ordinary physical attacks. Article
222-13 concerns violence "committed by an agent
of the state in the exercise of his duties."

The law specifies that the ban "is not applicable
when the recording or dissemination is the result
of the normal exercise of a profession whose
purpose is to inform the public or if it is
carried out with the aim of serving as judicial

'Happy slapping' is a physical attack on a person
carried out with the aim of obtaining a video
recording of the attack, which is then circulated
by mobile phone or posted on the Internet.

Reporters Without Borders points out that all
Internet users are now in a position to
participate in the creation and dissemination of
information. They are often the "recorders" of an
event, especially thanks to mobile phones with
photo and video capability, and can disseminate
their own content online.

These "citizen journalists" can play a role in
monitoring the activities of the authorities
throughout the world. In Egypt, for example,
bloggers recently revealed a series of scandals
involving the security services and showed, by
means of video recordings made clandestinely in
detention centres, that torture is still
regularly practised in Egypt.

In the field of human rights, it is them and not
professional journalists who have been
responsible for the most reliable reports and
information - the information that has most upset
the government. Reporters Without Borders thinks
it would be shocking if this kind of activity,
which constitutes a safeguard against abuses of
authority, were to be criminalized in a
democratic country.


Create your blog with Reporters Without Borders,
and read our weekly blog review at 




Reporters sans fronti=E8res exprime son inqui=E9tude
apr=E8s la validation par le Conseil
constitutionnel, le 5 mars 2007, de la loi sur la
pr=E9vention de la d=E9linquance. "Les passages de ce
texte cens=E9s traiter du 'happy slapping' ont en
r=E9alit=E9 une port=E9e beaucoup plus large. Les
internautes se voient d=E9sormais interdire de
publier des vid=E9os montrant des violences sur
personne, m=EAme si ces actes sont commis par les
forces de police", a d=E9clar=E9 l'organisation.

"Nous ne pr=E9sumons pas des intentions du
gouvernement et reconnaissons qu'il est
n=E9cessaire d'emp=EAcher la propagation du 'happy
slapping'. Mais cette loi introduit une
distinction dangereuse entre les journalistes
professionnels, autoris=E9s =E0 diffuser des images
de violences, et les simples citoyens, qui
risquent la prison pour les m=EAmes faits. Il est
particuli=E8rement regrettable que ce texte
instaure une interdiction de faire circuler sur
Internet les images d'=E9ventuelles exactions
commises par les forces de l'ordre", a ajout=E9

La loi sur la pr=E9vention de la d=E9linquance
adopt=E9e le 13 f=E9vrier 2007, avait =E9t=E9 port=E9e
devant le Conseil constitutionnel par le groupe
socialiste =E0 l'Assembl=E9e. Mais la saisine ne
portait pas sp=E9cifiquement sur le passage de la
loi d=E9di=E9 au happy slapping.

Le texte pr=E9voit des peines allant jusqu'=E0 cinq
ans de prison et 75 000 euros d'amende pour la
diffusion d'images portant sur les infractions
mentionn=E9es dans les articles 222-1 =E0 222-14-1 et
222-23 =E0 222-31 du code p=E9nal. Les d=E9lits
concern=E9s vont des actes de violence graves
("tortures" et "actes de barbarie") =E0 de simples
agressions. L'article 222-13 porte sur les
violences "commises par un d=E9positaire de
l'autorit=E9 publique (?) dans l'exercice (?) de
ses fonctions".

La loi pr=E9cise que cette interdiction "n'est pas
applicable lorsque l'enregistrement ou la
diffusion r=E9sulte de l'exercice normal d'une
profession ayant pour objet d'informer le public
ou est r=E9alis=E9 afin de servir de preuve en

Le Happy slapping est l'agression physique d'une
personne commise dans le but d'obtenir un film de
cette agression. Le document vid=E9o est ensuite
=E9chang=E9 par le biais de t=E9l=E9phones portables ou
publi=E9 sur Internet.

Reporters sans fronti=E8res rappelle que tous les
internautes ont aujourd'hui la possibilit=E9 de
participer =E0 la cr=E9ation et =E0 la diffusion de
l'information. Ils sont parfois les "capteurs"
d'un =E9v=E9nement, gr=E2ce notamment aux t=E9l=E9phones
portables capables d'enregistrer des images et
des vid=E9os, et peuvent diffuser leurs propres
contenus sur le Net. Ces "journalistes citoyens"
ont notamment une fonction de surveillance de
l'activit=E9 des pouvoirs publics partout dans le
monde. En Egypte, par exemple, des blogueurs ont
r=E9cemment r=E9v=E9l=E9 une s=E9rie de scandales
impliquant les services de s=E9curit=E9 et d=E9montr=E9,
au moyen de vid=E9os tourn=E9es clandestinement dans
des centres de d=E9tention, que la torture =E9tait
encore r=E9guli=E8rement pratiqu=E9e dans ce pays. Dans
le domaine des droits de l'homme, ce sont eux, et
non des journalistes professionnels, qui ont =E9t=E9
=E0 l'origine des informations les plus fiables et
les plus d=E9rangeantes pour le gouvernement.
Reporters sans fronti=E8res consid=E8re qu'il serait
choquant que ce type d'activit=E9, qui constitue un
garde-fou important contre d'=E9ventuelles d=E9rives
du pouvoir, soit criminalis=E9 dans un pays


Bureau Internet et libert=E9s / Internet Freedom desk

Reporters sans fronti=E8res / Reporters Without Borders
TEL: ++ 33 (0) 1 44 83 84 71
FAX: ++ 33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51 
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