France considers banning Tor and locking down Public Wi-Fi

Following a terrorist attack like the recent one on Paris, it should be no surprise that France is looking into ways to better secure their people.  One of the many ways they are considering doing that is reportedly proposing stricter controls on public Wi-Fi networks when the country is on high alert or in a state of emergency, and the banning of Tor networks.

According to french newspaper Le Monde,  two sets of legislation are being mulled over by the french government right now.  One involves that public Wi-Fi being flat out banned during states of emergency, due to the difficulty that law enforcement encounters when trying to track public Wi-Fi users.  The other involves the outright banning of the Tor network, which is one of the few ways users can still hide what they’re doing or at least obscure  the IP addresses.  The second one also would require VoIP services to give encryption keys up at the request of the government.

Le Monde reports that they have seen documentation from The French Ministry of Interior for both of these bills, which could be introduced as early as January 2016.

The Tor network has had a major user surge since Edward Snowden’s revelations about the high level of NSA surveillance.  If France decides to ban the anonymity network, they will not find it to be an easy task.    Blocking Tor nodes is notoriously difficult because you would have to have a great deal of control over everyone’s network.  China has managed to do it with their Great Firewall, if France is looking for tips.

Both of these bills will bring up a lot of questions about their citizens rights, especially the right to privacy.  Many believe that the increasing trend of governments trying to lock down privacy, or require backdoors in encryption to be going too far towards the side of controlling their citizens. Will this become a situation of a few terrorists ruining privacy for everyone?  Time will tell.


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