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October 17, 2011

French court orders shut down of police monitoring site

Copwatch Nord Paris I-D-F hosts videos of police officers arresting suspects, taunting protesters, says NYT

By CBR Staff Writer

A Paris court has ordered French Internet providers to block access to a website that displays images of police and personal information about their lives.

The website, called Copwatch Nord Paris I-D-F, also hosts videos of police officers arresting suspects, taunting protesters and allegedly committing acts of violence against members of ethnic minorities, said the New York Times.

French authorities say that the website puts the lives of police officers at risk. The Interior Ministry and a police union had sought the blockage of the site.

Law enforcement officials have welcomed the decision.

"The judges have analyzed the situation perfectly — this site being a threat to the integrity of the police — and made the right decision," Jean-Claude Delage, secretary general of the police union, Alliance Police Nationale, told Agence France-Presse.

But free speech campaigners have said that this could be another way for the governmnet to stiffle Internet freedoms in the country.

"This court order illustrates an obvious will by the French government to control and censor citizens’ new online public sphere," said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesman for La Quadrature du Net, a Paris-based organization that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet.

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