Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

France Orders Twitter to Identify Users Posting Hate Speech

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, January 25 2013

Twitter has been ordered to provide identifying information for French users participating in racist and anti-Semitic discourse on the social network. The ruling was handed down Thursday by a Paris court in response to a lawsuit brought on by several rights groups. The American company,which maintains a policy of not screening content posted by its users, has yet to articulate its response.

Hate speech is criminalized in France under strict anti-discrimination legislation developed over the decades following the Second World War; as in several European nations, denial of the holocaust or other genocidal events is illegal. The incident that prompted the recent lawsuit was a spate of anti-Semitic messages posted by anonymous users to the French Twittersphere in October; there were a number of anti-Muslim tweets as well, both strains connected to March 2012 shootings in Toulouse and Montauban, where a Jewish day school was targeted by a young French-Algerian alleging to be a member of al-Qaeda.

Closely following a block placed on the feed of a German neo-Nazi group, Twitter removed the French tweets in October in compliance with its country-withheld content policy, under which it will censor flagged messages that violate the laws of their country of origin. The request to identify the French citizens behind the hate speech — in order to try and prosecute them — brings up questions of the country’s jurisdiction over an American corporation. Twitter officially will only surrender user information in response to a United States court order or search warrant; its law enforcement guidelines state that it will respond to foreign parties requesting such information if served through the proper US channels.

The French court has allotted 15 days for the users to be identified; otherwise Twitter will be subject to a fine of 1,000 euros per day they remain anonymous. As data increasingly shifts to the cloud, nominally beholden to the laws of one country but accessible throughout the world, controversy like this will continue to raise the question of whose right — or responsibility — it is to govern the Internet.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Creeping

Senator Al Franken's tough questions for Uber's CEO; how the NSA could make its phone metadata program permanent; global privacy groups launch a personal spyware catcher called Detekt; and much, much more. GO

Recreation.gov and other Govt Projects Move Toward Embracing New Digital Approach

A draft request for proposals for the revamping of Recreation.gov will include a requirement that reservation availability data be publicly accessible and that all proposals detail how they will enable third-party sales, as two members of the United States Digital Services have joined the government team overseeing the RFP, meeting some key demands of civic technologists and consumer oriented technology companies. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Ubermenschens

Surge-pricing in effect for Uber privacy violations; why "privacy" policies should be called "data usage" policies; pols silent on Uber mess; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Uber Falles

Uber exposed for plan to dig up dirt on journalist critics; sneaking a SOPA provision into the USA Freedom Act; high-speed free WiFi coming to NYC; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Differences

How to use Twitter to circumvent campaign coordination rules; the net neutrality debate keeps getting hotter; charting the gender balance at dataviz conference using dataviz; and much, much more. GO

More