The government of France is in discussions on blocking Tor anonymity network and also the shared and free wifi network during a state of emergency.
These proposals may be laid down in 2 pieces of legislation, one state of emergency and other in relation to counter-terrorism.
According to the documents, the reason for blocking wifi in a state of emergency is the difficulty in tracking down people using public wifi so criminals trying to communicate through wifi can be difficult to track down. This particular idea came from the police who while putting forward their inputs on counter-terrorism.
Other legislation of banning Tor networks could be implemented in January 2016, according to the French newspaper Le Monde as this is something French government has already agreed.
Tor network has gained popularity in last two years since Snowden’s revelation and is widely used by people who face privacy issues over normal internet networks (Mostly journalists, whistleblowers and government critics) but a recent announcement from the terrorist group like ISIS about using anonymity network and devices has raised questions over the network usage.
Tor’s volunteers running the project have declined to comment on these proposals.
But, it is still unclear on how the French government will impose the ban as previously Chinese government tried to impose ban on Tor network but wasn’t much successful as when users connect to the Tor network they are connected via entry nodes which can be both public or non-public, public ones are easy to ban but the non-public ones known as bridges can’t be rectified easily.
Though, Chinese firewall sometimes blocks these bridges but cannot be trusted 100 percent. So, the French government would be required to make a system better then Chinese firewall for turning their plan into reality.
However, for French government only making the perfect system will not do the job because banning a network that protects free speech could be unconstitutional as French is one of the biggest supporters of free speech and have laws to protect it.
Civil Liberties and Legal Affairs (DLPAJ) has already raised questions on government’s proposal, whether are these moves within the provisions of the constitution.
One way that the French government can block Tor networks is by telling ISPs in France to analyze the customers using anonymity networks, but this will include people who are using these networks for privacy so might not be a good idea as ISPs can’t have the data on what sites each user is surfing.
Though, one thing is for sure with debates on privacy and related issues getting fierce all over Europe, it will likely result in some significant changes on how users surf the internet. So, stay tuned!