Controversy as New French Security Law Could Crack Down on Filming Police

Europe

A proposed French law could see images of police officers restricted from circulation. While supporters claim it will only be used to crack down on cyberbullying of law enforcement, critics claim it could be a danger to freedom of the press.

Part of France’s new security bill would make it a criminal offense – under threat of punishment with one year in prison and a €45,000 fine – to spread images that harm “the physical or mental integrity” of law enforcement officers.

Stanislas Gaudon, who heads the police union ‘Alliance’, said on Friday that existing cyberbullying legislation does not currently provide effective protection for the police.

Gaudon said the new law should also make it “compulsory to blur police officers’ faces” in any videos distributed.

Article 24 of the law, which was first proposed La République En Marche (LREM) MP Jean-Michel Fauvergue, following lobbying pressure from Alliance.

Lawmakers supporting the bill stress that it is only intended to be used in response to “malicious” actions.

Critics of the legislation claim that it could be used to repress certain liberties. On November 8, around 30 members of France’s Society of Journalists issued an open letter denouncing the bill as a “threat to the freedom to report”.

Some 800 filmmakers and photographers sent their own letter, claiming that the proposed bill is equivalent to “censorship”. They cited that a prominent documentary on police…

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