Monday, December 14, 2009

French pols threatened by online chatter

The NY Times reports that a French women who put an anonmyous comment online became the target of  a politician who subpoenaed the woman's "Internet protocol address, obtained her identity and brought suit against her for “public insult toward a member of the ministry,” an offense punishable by a fine of up to $18,000."

Accustomed to a certain deference from citizens and the news media, members of France’s political elite have been caught off guard by the cruder sensibilities and tabloid flavor of the online world. They have mounted a broad counteroffensive.

Politicians here have filed lawsuits like Ms. Morano’s, organized in-house Internet surveillance teams — Mr. Sarkozy receives a nightly report detailing the day’s online chatter — and roundly denounced the Web as a breeding ground for disinformation.

“The Internet is a danger for democracy,” said Jean-François Copé, parliamentary chief for the governing party, the Union for a Popular Movement, in a recent radio interview.

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