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Why the blocking of porn sites was rejected by the courts (this time)

The Paris judicial court rejected the request of two associations to block several large pornographic sites. But it shouldn’t stop there.

The blocking of pornographic sites will not take place today. The Paris judicial court has just rejected this Friday, October 8 the request of two associations for the protection of children, e-Enfance and La Voix de l’Enfant, which wanted to obtain the neutralization of some of the main X sites on the net because they do not do enough to prevent minors from accessing their services.

The court judgment was relayed on Twitter by journalist Marc Rees. Justice declares that the demands of the two associations are ” inadmissible Because they don’t have to target the right people, so to speak. Indeed, they assigned the operators and not the owners of the X sites involved – PornHub, YouPorn, Xvideos, RedTube, XNXX, XHamster, TuKif, IciPorno and MrSexe.

It is, in fact, not contested [que les fournisseurs d’accès à Internet] have no legal link with the companies that own or publish the disputed sites, that they neither edit nor control the pornographic content and that they do not have to justify the absence of measures taken to prevent minors to have access to these contents », Observes the court in its judgment.

The wrong target brought to court

In the background, we understand that the associations should rather have directly targeted the managers of the sites involved – if only so that they can defend themselves in court – and not the large French operators such as Orange, Free, Bouygues Telecom and SFR. However, the disorder denounced by associations must be blamed on the right people and not on third parties.

The court continues: “ The perpetrators of the alleged disturbances were not [cités] in the present case or even been informed of the procedure were not able to present observations on the requested measures likely to infringe their interests or their rights and to propose, if necessary, alternative solutions “. Under these conditions, it is impossible to go further.

That said, the court admits that it “ It is established that the access by minors to pornographic content published by the nine sites referred to in the document initiating the proceedings, noted by the two bailiff’s reports given to the proceedings, constitutes a manifestly unlawful disorder », Because there is no effective control over the age of Internet users who visit the pages of these X sites.

The October 8 decision does not end the debate on the disconcerting ease of accessing pornographic sites. // Source: Melvyn Dadure for Numerama

The case will not end there

Since July 2020, the law has provided for a new violation of article 227-24 of the Penal Code. This punishes with 3 years in prison and a 75,000 euros fine for not offering a more effective control than a simple declaration affirming that one is at least 18 years old, with a view to keeping a minor away from adult content. This measure reflects a request from Emmanuel Macron on behalf of child protection.

Turns out the law doesn’t say how to check age. In short, it is up to the X sites to manage to get into the nails of article 227-24. Several avenues were explored, such as the use of FranceConnect (but the idea was rejected), the purchase of a porn pass in authorized shops or even a check by credit card, with an invoice at zero euros.

To force these sites to put in place the requested controls, blocking at the ISP level was mentioned, including whether the devices imagined are little or not efficient enough. But obviously, access to offending sites has not changed since 2020. There is no real verification: it suffices to say that one is completely of age. It only takes one or two mouse clicks.

It would be wrong, however, to think that everything ends with this verdict. First, because the two associations have not necessarily said their last word. A new action remains possible, by recalibrating their legal strategy – even if it is not easy to target the managers of these X sites, who are obviously very discreet. Then because there is another procedure, of the CSA this time.

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