France seeks to ban Tor, lock down public Wi-Fi

December 8, 2015 | 11:39

Tags: #censorship #emergency #law #legal #paris #proxy #public-wi-fi #terror #terrorism #the-onion-router #tor #wi-fi

Companies: #france #government

Leaked documents have revealed that French authorities are responding to the recent Paris attacks with a call to lock down communications access, seeking to ban anonymous proxies and prevent the use of Wi-Fi hotspots in emergency situations.

Revealed by local newspaper Le Monde, the documents relate to upcoming bills on official states of emergency and terrorism and call for increasing powers to control communications in the country. The first bill would allow authorities to block the use of Wi-Fi hotspots during official states of emergency, as a means of helping to prevent the coordination of an attack - but likely to have considerable impact on those seeking information or aid as a result of said attack.

The second bill is more wide-reaching: despite evidence that those involved in last month's attacks, which left 130 people dead, used unencrypted SMS to organise and communicate, the bill would call for anonymous proxies to be banned from all use within France - name-checking Tor, also known as The Onion Router Project, a US government-sponsored programme to allow the hosting of anonymous websites and the hiding of traffic from monitoring and censorship. No details as to the technical measures that would be taken to block access to Tor and other anonymous proxies have been provided as part of the leaks, but could include legal measures such as fines or even imprisonment for those found to be using Tor - even if they carry out no crime as a result.

The propose bills, which could be heard before the French parliament as soon as January 2016, follow legislation which increased police powers for searching communications devices seized during anti-terrorism investigations and increased blocking of web content deemed extremist in nature by law enforcement.
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