France prohibits terrorist acts in general by defining them as criminal offenses within its Penal Code. For example, both the actions of incitement to terrorism and “glorification” of terrorist acts are covered, as well as computer crimes, the financing of terror, and money laundering. There is also specific French legislation and several decrees regulating online terrorist content; as well as its removal within a set time frame of 24 hours. Governmental efforts to discontinue and block sites containing terrorist content are being made with these regulatory tools, together with the application of strong penalties for hateful speech, online incitement to terrorism and glorification of terrorist acts. Within this framework, France is following a more comprehensive European regulatory trend.
STRATEGIES, POLICIES AND LAWS
The French National Digital Security Strategy suggests a safe, open and stable cyberspace acknowledging the usage of internet by terrorist groups to disseminate propaganda.
The National Plan for the Prevention of Radicalization includes 60 measures developed to tackle radicalization, including the threat posed by online propaganda.
The French government engages the public in the identification of terrorist content online. The above website is the interior ministry’s online portal for terrorist threat alerts.
The White Paper proposes a general security strategy and stresses the role of the internet as a recruitment channel.
Art. 421-1(2) of the Penal Code includes “computer offenses” (“matière informatique”) within the scope of “terrorist act”.
Art. 421-2-5 of the Penal Code outlaws incitement to terrorism and glorification of terrorist acts.
Art. 421-2-6 of the Penal Code criminalizes the regular search of one or multiple online communication services or holding documents that promote terrorist acts.
Art. 706 includes procedural rules related to the competence and procedure for the prosecution of terrorist acts.
The law condemns incitement to terrorism and the glorification of such acts. Article 12 amends Article 6 of Law no. 2004-575, giving the administrative authority the right to ask the website’s hosts the withdrawal of the terrorist content. It also broadens the scope of search of digital data by police forces.
The law includes the definition of “online communication service to the public”.
This is the Decree on the discontinuation of sites triggering terrorist acts or promoting terrorism and the sites disseminating images and representations of minors having pornographic character.
This is the Decree on the blockage of sites triggering terrorist acts or promoting terrorism and the sites spreading pornographic images and representations of minors.
The Anti-Terrorism Sub-Directorate (“La sous-direction anti-terroriste- SDAT”) works under the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police.
The Coordination Unit for the Fight against Terrorism (“Unité de coordination de la lutte anti-terroriste- UCLAT”) consists of representatives from all active branches of the National Police.
The Cyber-Crime Sub-Directorate (“Sous-direction de lutte contre la cybercriminalité- SDLC”) works under the French national police and includes an office for strategic cooperation to combat cybercrime.
The Digital Ambassador is responsible of the international negotiations on cybersecurity, the internet governance and the freedom of speech online.
The Paris Prosecutor 4th division has the national responsibility for enquiries on terrorism issues. In December 2018, the French National Assembly voted in favor of the creation of a national prosecutor office for terrorism that could be established in 2020.
The Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Crime and Radicalization (“Le comité interministériel de prévention de la délinquance et de la radicalisation – CIPDR”) coordinates and supports policies to prevent crime and radicalization.
The National Commission for the Control of the Intelligence Techniques (“La commission nationale de contrôle des techniques de renseignement- CNCTR”) is an independent administrative authority that ensures that intelligence gathering techniques are implemented in accordance with the French Internal Security Code.
Created in 2017, CNRLT enables coordination between French intelligence agencies and ministries. The external services attached to it include the Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE), the Directorate for Defence Intelligence and Security (DRSD) and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DRM). The domestic service attached to the CNRLT is the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI). The CNRLT also works with ministerial cabinets to help shape France’s counter-terrorism policy.
The Sentinel Operation is a French counter-terrorism operation launched by the military in January 2015, following a series of coordinated terrorist attacks that took place on 13 November 2015 in Paris.
The Central Directorate of the Judicial Police (“Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire- DCPJ”) is the French national police responsible for investigating and fighting serious crime.
Ministère de la Défense, 2015. French National Digital Security Strategy. Strategie Nationale Securité Numerique.