France is considering implementing a legislative plan that would require browsers to directly block government-specified websites. Mozilla, the organization responsible for the Firefox browser, has criticized this plan, stating that it would undermine established norms and give authoritarian governments a tool for internet censorship. While the intentions behind the plan may be good, the implementation would be disastrous for internet freedom and disproportionate to the desired goals.
The French government’s plan is part of a larger effort to protect the population from “digital insecurity.” This includes banning social media accounts after certain convictions, making it easier to block pornographic content without age verification, and better protection against fraudulent websites. The government intends to create a list of fraudulent websites and have browsers automatically block them.
Mozilla is strongly opposed to this approach, stating that it would set a dangerous precedent and create technological capabilities that could be used by regimes for more nefarious purposes. Instead, Mozilla suggests strengthening existing mechanisms like Smart Screen and Safe Browsing, which warn users about potentially harmful sites. They propose regulating how quickly URLs reported by authorities are added to these lists, and allowing independent experts to verify the entries. This approach would not only protect users in France but also worldwide.
In conclusion, Mozilla believes that France’s plan to mandate browser-based blocking of government-specified websites would have negative consequences for internet freedom. They recommend focusing on existing mechanisms and strengthening them to combat fraud and protect users globally.