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Topic: [ME] French to codify the net
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ME] French to codify the net
Posted: Sep 15, 1999 10:52 PM
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From French Advances in Science and Technology [FAST], a free review of
mainstream French press on issues of science and technology. FAST is
published by the Science and Technology Office of the Embassy of France to
the United States, and by its CNRS Washington office.


Since modern society can no longer perform without a Net, and with American
cousins worrying about electronic Pearl Harbors, the French government
deems it high time to codify this new dimension of "the public space." If
Germany has had legal electronic signatures since 1997, the US has
liberalized cryptography laws, and Canada has enacted several Internet
measures, France would be the first nation to establish an overall legal
environment for electronic communication.

In his pre-back-to-school address, the Prime Minister promised a
legislative package by January addressing such problems as safe electronic
shopping, protecting intellectual property, and thwarting invasion of
privacy and misuse of personal information. The government is determined to
make good on its promise to usher France into the information society (a
sign of the times: most ministers travel with a ghost geek to turn to when
the technical questioning gets indelicate), and several measures in the
package are already under discussion, such as a proposed makeover of the
law on legal proof to make room for electronic signatures. If passed, "a
chain of letters, characters, numerals and/or symbols of some meaningful
signification" will constitute a signature "regardless of their form or
their means of transmission."

As a watchdog over this brave new world, the panoply of bills will include
a proposal for a national agency bringing public and private sector actors
together to settle disputes and establish good practice. A special branch
of the national police will be set up to fight cyber-crime and terrorism.
Finally, Jospin will propose a national coordination of labs and research
budgets in the area of high-speed or second generation Internet, aimed at
getting Europe quickly up to speed in
what may turn out to be a strategic infrastructure and one where
single-country domination (guess who?) may not be the optimum scenario.

(Libération, August 27, Florent Latrive; Annick Rivoire; Les Echos,
September 2, Pascal Hénisse, p. 12)
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office)
(618) 457-8903 (home)

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