I'm not usually one to support socialism, but... Congratulations, French Socialist Party!
A bill that would have created the world's first government agency devoted to tracking Internet activity and punishing Internet piracy was unexpectedly defeated in the French National Assembly yesterday, primarily by members of the Socialist Party who had opposed the bill from its inception.
I personally find this a bit odd since the French Socialist Party, like all democratic socialist parties, tends to be in favor of government regulation. I'm not usually one to support socialism (which may be my biggest understatement of the day), but in this case I don't care. For today, at least, I have nothing but love for the Parti Socialiste.
Of course, the defeat of the bill might have been helped a little by the National Assembly being nearly empty at the time, since the bill was expected to be passed with little opposition. The vote was 21-15. The Assemblée Nationale has 577 members, so it seems apathy won the day.
While the bill will almost certainly be brought before the legislature again, it's good to see that a few legislators are still championing freedom and common sense. After all, the measures enacted by this bill would have been easily bypassed simply by using public Wi-Fi hotspots, an anonymous proxy, Tor, or any of the other commonly used methods of ensuring Internet anonymity. And it wouldn't have done a thing to stop streaming of pirated media, which is becoming fairly popular.
As I said previously, I think we may be taking the wrong approach when it comes to intellectual property. Certainly the current measures used to curb piracy are largely ineffective. Of course, that's in no small part because those making the laws often don't fully understand the technical issues involved. Hopefully, the French legislators will wizen up a bit by the time this bill again rears it's dumb, ugly head. If it is passed, it would set a dangerous precedent for other nations to follow suit with equally misguided and ineffective Big Brother Internet monitoring agencies.
Listen up, my French friends — the freedom of the Internet is resting on your shoulders.