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AUI Press Release - Unconstitutionality of Internet Amendment

[Whole dossier (in French) on http://www.aui.fr/]
This decision by the French 'Conseil Constitutionnel' is *very*
important for us. Just like the decision of the Court of Philadelphia on
the CDA. Any news from Germany, Rigo ?


AUI - Press Release, July 25, 1996

AUI (Association of Internet Users) acknowledges with satisfaction the
decision reached by the Conseil Constitutionnel on July 24, 1996, about the
French Telco Act ; the Conseil states the unconstitutionality of articles
43-2 and 43-3 within article 15 of the Act.

The Conseil Constitutionnel received on June 24, 1996, a request from 61
Senators belonging to the Socialist Group (president : M. Claude Estier) 
to examine the eventual unconstitutionality of the Telco Act. This request
bore specific emphasis on articles 6, 8 and 15 of the Act.

Article 15, better known as "Amendment n°200", or "Fillon Amendment" (after
Francois Fillon, French Minister of Telecommunications and Space), dealt
with the control over the Internet, and was made of the three articles
43-1, 43-2 and 43-3.
This article 15 was analyzed by AUI, which issued a press release on June
11, 1996, stating that the said Amendment was "hasty, useless, unjustified,
technically unapplicable and dangerous to democracy and freedom of
expression". AUI asked for the withdrawal of Fillon Amendment, and alerted
the public opinion and the concerned authorities. More specifically, AUI 
sent its analysis of the Amendment to all the political groups of the 
Senate and the Assemblee Nationale.

AUI considers that its analysis is in concordance with the
decision of the Conseil Constitutionnel declaring as unconstitutional
articles 43-2 and 43-3 within article 15.

Article 43-2 placed CST (Conseil Supérieur de la Télématique) under the
authority of CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel), and granted CST with
advisory privileges.
AUI considered (and demonstrated) that this article was a threat to
democracy and freedom of expression, both guaranteed to any citizen by the
Constitution. AUI considers that any citizen is responsible of his sayings,
including those distributed via the Internet, only before justice.

AUI welcomes particularly the rejection of article 43-2, which
would have constituted a dangerous threat to freedom of expression.

Article 43-3 forced upon Internet Services Providers an obligation of results,
and would have been prosecuted for infringing an advice from the CST. AUI
considers that rejection of article 43-3, the dispositions of which are 
inseparable from those in article 43-2, clears up threats ISPs could 
only have protected themselves from by a very strict control of the 
information distributed via the Internet.

Article 43-1 was not rejected by the Conseil Constitutionnel. The
constitutionality of this article was not discussed by AUI.
AUI nonetheless reminds that the availability of technical means for
restricting Internet access and selecting Internet services is not
guaranteed, and that the obligation imposed upon the ISPs to offer such
means to their clients should concern only limited means. Nevertheless,
since the decision to use these means is the sole responsability of the
clients, AUI considers that article 43-1 is not a threat to freedom of

M. Francois Fillon declared to AFP that he will offer new propositions
about the rejected articles ; AUI demands that these new propositions be 
discussed within the frame of an actual concertation with the Internet users,
represented by their existing associations, among which AUI.

Contact :
E-mail : presidence@aui.fr
Web : http://www.aui.fr/

Meryem Marzouki  - TIMA-CMP - Meryem.Marzouki@imag.fr - Tel: (+33)76574696  
46 avenue Felix Viallet, 38031 Grenoble Cedex, France - Fax: (+33)76473814