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September 16, 2009

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Contentious French Net bill moves a step closer

FRANCE'S lower house of parliament has approved a pioneering bill allowing authorities to cut off Internet access to people who download illegally.

The bill has garnered attention beyond France, both from music and film industries struggling to keep up official revenue and from privacy advocates who say it threatens civil liberties.

The measure passed yesterday in the National Assembly following approval by the Senate in July. It must clear another hurdle to become law, gaining approval from a small committee from both houses of parliament.

Under the bill, pirates who ignore e-mail warnings and a registered letter could see their Internet connections cut for up to a year. They could also face fines of up to 300,000 euros (US$435,000) or prison terms.

An original, tougher version of the bill was shot down earlier this year as unconstitutional. Legislators in the National Assembly debated a new, compromise version.

The Culture Ministry estimates that 1,000 French Internet pirates a day could be taken offline under the bill.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, husband of model-turned-singer Carla Bruni, supports the bill.


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