France close to 3 strike piracy law

Plans by the French government to require Internet service providers to throw persistent pirates off the Internet are now closer to becoming law.

The French Senate voted 297 to 15 in favour of the law, which now goes to the French National Assembly for final approval.

The law, first suggested by Nicolas Sarkozy in November 2007, requires that ISPs monitor web traffic of their customers. Those detected to be downloading copyrighted material illegally would be sent up to two warning letters, before having their internet connection cut off if they persisted to download illegally.

An amendment suggested by Bruno Retailleau of the right-wing MPF party, which proposed giving customers fines, rather than cutting them off, was rejected by French politicians prior to the Senate vote. Mr Retailleau said that the Internet has become an "essential commodity".

Retailleau is not alone. In April 2008, the European Union rejected calls for such a law to be imposed across Europe, saying that throwing people offline conflicted with "civil liberties and human rights".

France is not the only country taking measures to tackle piracy. Sweden has proposed a law that would allow copyright owners to request the personal details of anyone they suspect of copyright infringement from their ISP. Sweden is reportedly going to enact the law in April 2009.

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