Confidential plans in development by the French government to spy on internet users in order to enforce the Three Strikes law against illegal file sharing have now been leaked to the public.
It seems that Hadopi, a French government agency created to monitor copyright infringement activity on the country’s internet connections, has been looking at snooping software that would search through files on citizens’ computers, check router configurations, and display an on-screen message when P2P protocol use has been detected.
While this net monitoring plan is definitely creepy (visions of Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984, anyone?), it may also be illegal. EU law currently prohibits their member states from imposing a ‘general obligation to monitor’.
The security software Hadopi has been developing to monitor France’s internet traffic has 4 key functions:
- The real time observation of protocol traffic
- Analysis of configuration files, including static analysis of the programs installed and the router, with dynamic analysis of the use of the connection
- Logs of all activity on the internet access – including activation /deactivation, modification of any security profiles – to be kept for a year
- A system of alerts warning users if they are about to use a P2P connection: for example, “You are about to download a file using a P2P protocol – do you want to continue?”
As if that’s not enough, the software would also have the capability to block users’ access based upon a “chosen security policy.” Three strikes, you’re out.
Still hungry for more? It gets better…
Hadopi was called out for using an unlicensed font, belonging to France Telecom, in their new logo. This has to be a rather awkward situation for a government agency tasked with enforcing copyright law. This would mark at least the second time this year we’ve seen a major copyright enforcement agency steal a copyrighted design.
Of course I understand that nothing on the internet is truly private, but France’s monitoring plans seem overly intrusive and akin to something out of a movie about a futuristic police state. Is this what government anti-piracy measures are really coming to?