France is currently preparing a law that would allow harmful content to be blocked directly by the underlying software and code of browsers. Firefox developer Mozilla claims this is a very dangerous development that leads to censorship.
According to the Firefox developer, the French SREN bill puts free access to content over the Internet at risk. The sixth article of this bill states that Web browser developers must bake in tools that serve as filters for blocking certain content. The content involved is defined by the French government.
More control and censorship
The mandatory blocking of content by governments is not new, but the obligation on Web browsers to bake tools for this into the underlying code themselves is. This gives governments a lot of power for blocking content. According to Mozilla, this is mandatory compliance with totalitarian governments’ “playbooks” and subsequent censorship.
What’s worse is that the blocking of unwelcome content cannot be undone. The French government wants the blocking mechanisms baked into the browser code by default, which means they are not customizable.
UK also working on backdoor bill
France is not the only European country that wants to actively block certain Internet content via law. The UK is also currently preparing a law, the “Online Safety Bill,” that would require tech companies to build government-requested backdoors into applications with end-to-end encryption. The bill focuses on chat applications. Think of apps like WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal. WhatsApp and Signal are said to have already indicated they will cease operations in the UK if the bill passes through parliament. But both bills do share the same underlying thoughts, which is to stop illegal content.