back to article Twitter must unmask racist French twits or face $1,300-a-DAY fine

Twitter has been ordered by a tribunal in France to name the anonymous twits who tweeted anti-Semitic bile. The social network was sued by the Union of French Jewish Students to make it to reveal the identities of those behind the vile messages, which were pulled from the website in October. Twitter said it obeyed the laws of …

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  1. Nanners
    Trollface

    can they?

    Can Twitter just pull themselves from France altogether? China blocks sites all the time.

    1. LarsG
      Meh

      Privacy? Free speech? Opinion? Bloody mindedness?

      Human Rights to be allowed freedom of expression?

      1. An ominous cow herd

        Re: Privacy? Free speech? Opinion? Bloody mindedness?

        Not that I agree with most of this, but most countries have some kind of restrictions on any of those. In the UK you can not be a police officer and a fascist, if you want a visa to visit the US of A you must state you're not a communist, in France you can not say you hate Jews... What is considered private or allowed in the spirit free speech varies wildly depending on where you are. Opinions on such matters differ, like in so many other liberties (drinking age, voting age, consensual sex age, expressing one’s sexual orientation – when not conforming to the norm –, etc.).

        It's the world we live in, deal with it! (i.e., try to change it if you don't agree with what's going on, but accept that others may think differently)

        1. RonWheeler
          Happy

          Re: Privacy? Free speech? Opinion? Bloody mindedness?

          Indeed - nanny knows best.

      2. Potemkine Silver badge

        The question is where the limit must be, and not if there must be a limit.

        For instance, calling to hurt or to murder someone cannot be covered by free speech.

        Any freedom has a limit defined by the law, because the Individual lives in a society and his/her freedom is

        limited by the others' freedom. It is fair when the law is voted by the People or People's representative democratically elected.

        Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, article 11. : The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: can they?

      If Twitter has no offices or servers in France, then yes it can ignore French courts. In the US, the Constitution guarantees the right to Free Speech. In the EU and most of the rest of the world, there is no right to Free Speech. The likelihood that a US Court would directly uphold th French Court's ruling is zero. On the other hand, the plaintiffs can try to sue in a US Court, which if they were really interested in anything other than publicity, they would have done rather than engage in that masterbatory suit in France.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: can they?

        " In the US, the Constitution guarantees the right to Free Speech. In the EU and most of the rest of the world, there is no right to Free Speech"

        Would that be the right to Free Speech as in, the right to Say Things We Approve Of? You're mistaken, we have that too.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: can they?

        " In the US, the Constitution guarantees the right to Free Speech."

        Like shouting 'FIRE"! (when there isn't one) in a crowded cinema?

      3. Blitterbug
        Meh

        Re: masterbatory suit

        I think some of the froth from your lips obscured your eyes temporarily, Mr Earth. Last time I checked (around 35 years ago when I was about 13) there was a U in that there word.

    3. LarsG
      Meh

      Imagine imagine if

      Imagine if Twitter added a button to report offensive tweets?

      Every Tom Dick and Harry will be complaining about anything that doesn't suit them.

      It will mean that twitter will have to employ a million moderators to manage the swamp of inane crap that gets published.

      1. Chad H.
        WTF?

        @LarsG

        Oh nonsense. Most sites with user post ability - including this comments thread - have a report as offensive button. The wheel does not require reinvention.

      2. wowfood

        Re: Imagine imagine if

        I find your use of the word 'dick' to be offensive, and that blank vacant expression is disturbing. Reported.

  2. Tom 13

    So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

    "...or be fined $1,300 a day until it compiled."

    1. El Presidente
      FAIL

      Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

      Ordering twitter to write code to prevent people criticising adherents to what is after all just an idea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

        If it were muslims instead of jews, twitter would have killed the twit's feed and handed his information over toute de suite.

        1. mrweekender
          FAIL

          Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

          Anti Semitic comments are technically not racist. Jews choose to be Jews, they are not "born" Jews. Jewishness is merely passed on through religious indoctrination from a very young age. For example I could be Jewish but I could also be English white man or an American black man. Jews are not a race. Just as Christians are not a race and neither are Muslims. They are just groups of people who follow a type of religion.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

            mrweekender, whilst what you say is correct about Judaism, the religion, there is also a Jewish ethnicity.

            Of course, all such ethnic boundaries are arbitrary, it just depends where we draw the line. We could have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 20, or 100 races.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

            Biblically speaking anti Semitic comments would be comments that are derogatory to the descendants of Shem (one of Noahs three sons). Amongst the Semites are the Jewish people, through the lineage back to Isaac and his father Abraham, as are the arabs through the Ishmael, Abraham's other son.

            So, a comment directed at a Jewish person could really only be anti Semitic if that Jewish person could trace their line back successfully to show that they were actually Semitic.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

              "Biblically speaking anti Semitic comments would be comments that are derogatory to the descendants of Shem (one of Noahs three sons). Amongst the Semites are the Jewish people, through the lineage back to Isaac and his father Abraham, as are the arabs through the Ishmael, Abraham's other son. a comment directed at a Jewish person could really only be anti Semitic if that Jewish person could trace their line back successfully to show that they were actually Semitic."

              The word is used to mean anyone who has any kind of enmity or antipathy towards Jews. What you or other poorly educated etymologists think the word "should" mean, is irrelevant. Words mean what they mean.

              If you want denotations and etymologies to correspond, there will be many words in the language that will need new meanings, and many new words will be required for things which currently have words of "incorrect etymology".

              Here's a new word for you: "semantics".

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. Mike Moyle Silver badge

            Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

            ...or as a Jewish friend of mine used to say, "If someone's going to be an anti-Semite, I just wish that they would be anti-ALL-Semites, instead of just hating MY family!"

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

            Weekender, I think you might find that you've got it backwards. Being Jewish is being part of a nation as well as having certain beliefs. The latter you may choose not to follow, but the former is with you for life and not your decision.

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

              "Weekender, I think you might find that you've got it backwards. Being Jewish is being part of a nation as well as having certain beliefs. The latter you may choose not to follow, but the former is with you for life and not your decision."

              Indeed. I once dated an Israeli girl who was Jewish by race but not Jewish by religion. I know many Americans who also consider themselves Jewish by race but not religion

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

                "I once dated an Israeli girl who was Jewish by race but not Jewish by religion."

                Yep. I consider myself Jewish, but am not religious - though I respect Judaism as part of my cultural history.

                I also figure that if I'm Jewish enough to be cornered in school and threatened for 'killing Jesus', and if I'm Jewish enough to have a right to Israeli citizenship if I want, and if I'm Jewish enough that I would have been hauled off to the gas chambers, then I'm damn well Jewish enough, and anybody who tries to tell me otherwise can roll it up tight.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

                  "then I'm damn well Jewish enough"

                  Hehe! Never thought of it that way. :)

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: So the French courts are ordering Twitter to write code now?!??!

      Yes, gah. My fault. Compiled, complied. I had word blindess :(

      C.

      1. Tom 13
        Pint

        Re: Yes, gah.

        Yeah, it was an obvious typo, but just too good to pass up in the comment section.

        So have a beer on me.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Changing worrld

    Another fine example of how the world has changed. We live in this huge global villages ( what a horrible phrase! ), where politcal boundaries mean less and less each day. We traverse more countires boundaries in a morning browsing session than our forebears would have in a lifetime.

    We're already seeing the dismantling of such things as the Swiss finanical laws on privacy and anonymity, forced by the 24/7/365 connected, online world where you can't hide behind a country's laws because the world and their dog already know you're there.

    The laws and legalities need ugrent update to allow us to quickly and efficiently stamp on the same old bugbears of old, such as hate crime in this case.

    1. EvilGav 1
      Thumb Down

      Re: Changing worrld

      "hate" is not a crime.

      In some circumstances, what was said and shown could be considered satire - albeit many may find it distasteful.

      "Jews talk about The Holocaust, which is wrong, they had A holocaust, admittedly it was the best one, but the native American Indians and the Australian Aboriginees may have a claim on holocaust as well."

      Jim Jeffries

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Changing worrld

      There is no such thing as "hate" crime. If I insult you, slander you, or kick your arse, those things are bad regardless of your ethnic background or mine.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Changing worrld

        Ah but if you're white and they're not it's far far worse.

        I mean when was the last time you heard a black guy get arrested for a hate crime? Or a muslim? Or erm.. a mexican?

  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: Fascism / Communism

      Odd, where does it mention the Government ANYWHERE in this article?

      You do know courts != government don't you? In fact they often keep government in check.

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: Fascism / Communism

        Actually, in French (and most european) law the court is part of the goverTment. You're presumably thinking in terms of adversarial separation of powers, a very anglo-saxon idea that just never caught on amongst the continentals.

        This has odd results. English courts can set and overturn law by precedent because they function in opposition to the legislature and the executive, whilst Courts in France can't (having no ability to set precedent in the first place), because they acknowledge the supremacy of the legislative assembly and executive power. They function as an arm of government, implementing and enforcing the law. They can overturn law, but the law can simply be restated by the legislature, whereas an English court setting a precedent in an area of law can often force the legislature to abandon future attempts to craft law in that area as the courts would simply deny their legitimacy based on prior precedent.

        Of course this all ignores the point the original poster was trying to make, and that he would have made much better if he had replaced "the government" with "the state". Courts form part of the apparatus of The State, along with the legislature, executive, armed forces, police and various other bits and bobs. The State, in this case represented by the Courts, is becoming more oppressive and thus more like the stasi. Though the better comparison would be the entire state apparatus of the GDR rather than just its internal security enforcement branch.

        1. BinkyTheHorse
          Meh

          Re: Fascism / Communism

          "[...a very anglo-saxon idea that just never caught on amongst the continentals."

          Yes, that Montesquieu was such a fine British chap, pip pip, and all that.

          Actually, you're conflating separation of powers with common law. The latter certainly isn't a prerequisite of the former, and the inability of the courts to set precedents does not make them "parts of the government" in the context of their independence, and it does not even necessarily mean that no judicial structure has an ability to shoot down a law that has been put forward by the legislative or executive branch.

          Whether the courts are "part of the government" depends on what you understand as the "government". AFAIR, in British English that refers chiefly to the executive branch.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fascism / Communism

      "Anonymity is a human right."

      So if I anonymously, in a public place, claim that you are a pedophile or racist etc., you would be quite happy about that ?

      Anon, obviously :-)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fascism / Communism

      Eadon, I thought it was just in the Linux articles that you embarrassed yourself and dragged the good(!?) name of this site through the mud.

      I am sure you have the best of intentions but mate, just give it a rest, will you please.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Mmmm

    "Twitter said it obeyed the laws of the countries it operates in, but insisted that only a US judge could order it to squeal."

    Ok, lets take this apart:

    If a court of law in a country orders you to hand the information and you fail to do so (saying only US courts can), then you are in contempt of court, which is an offence, ergo, you are not "obeying the laws of the country".

    So let me amend.

    "Twitter said it obeyed the laws of the countries it operates in, except where it suits us for either financial or propaganda purposes.

    Fixed.

    1. Jean-Paul

      Re: Mmmm

      But as you say the laws of the countries it operates in...Do they operate in France? Or are they accessible from France?

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Mmmm

      I operate several websites in the UK.

      If a US court decides to instruct me to do something, because of something on those websites, I'll write back a nice letter pointing out that they do not have jurisdiction.

      If, and when, an EU or UK court does the same, I will comply 100% fully with the law.

      At no time is it illegal to not comply with a foreign court's ruling that lacks jurisdiction. Otherwise, quite literally, some court in the Middle East, say, could sentence a Brit for being gay even if they never stepped foot in the country that the court is in, and even if the offence is perfectly legal in Britain.

      The question really is who has jurisdiction? And what portion of Twitter can be told what to do by a French court? Because even if they have "twitter.fr", for example, the chances are that the server and the data have never, ever been deployed in France and that not one Twitter employee has ever set foot in the country on business. In that case, about the worst they could do is threaten certain Twitter CEO's that they might be arrested on entry to France (which would result in a very interesting case should it ever come to court, but would likely be thrown out before it even started because of the laws on jurisdiction), and maybe confiscate the domain name.

      Even if you HAVE jurisdiction over some entity - say, Twitter France Ltd or whatever - then that jurisdiction is only over them, not their US parent. You can fine them. You can sanction them. But what you can't do is make the US data holders do anything. Most probably they would get the US data holders to at least filter the material from France, but equally they could just dissolve the French company because it can't comply (and wouldn't want to annoy the French courts) and have done with it.

      Jurisdiction in the modern era is really, really complicated in terms of knock-on effects, but also really, really simple in terms of the law. I'm not in France, so I can't commit a crime which comes under French jurisdiction. It's not quite so simple electronically, but you can't "fine" someone electronically either - you have to take it to a court.

      The Supreme Court of Outer Mongolia can send me all the legal demands they like. Until they go to a British court and get the correct paperwork (e.g. extradition, etc.), they have no jurisdiction over me. The worst they can do is freeze my Monogolian assets (none), stop me entering the country or arrest me on entry, or apply to a British court. And the trial at the British court will almost certainly be more costly and difficult than whatever they are sending me letters for.

      The British court is the only one with jurisdiction over me at the moment. However, if I was - say - committing fraud or hacking into the Whitehouse, I quite reasonably expect to see an application for extradition come through to a British court. With companies, who can't be "extradited", that's much harder. And with crimes that aren't crimes in other jurisdictions, that's even harder. And when there's no legal presence in a particular country at all, that's even harder.

      The big question really is: What does the French court and the prosecutor expect to achieve, and would it harm Twitter's international image not to comply more than it would to comply?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mmmm

        A better approach is to just ignore the court order without any response. If you send a letter back (or any other communication) a lot of judges will assume that you are acknowledging the court order and then defying it. At that point they may decide to take offence and escalate the whole matter. Something similar to this happened to Spamhaus as I remember.

        1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

          Re: Mmmm

          "Something similar to this happened to Spamhaus as I remember."

          It did, but it initially moved to move the case to higher US courts, which was the mistake (i.e. recognising any sort of US jurisdiction by asking them to move it to a more appropriate US court). To quote Wikipedia:

          "The court, presided over by Judge Charles Kocoras, proceeded with the case against Spamhaus without considering the international jurisdiction issue, prompting British MP Derek Wyatt to call for the judge to be suspended from office."

          "Spamhaus subsequently announced that it would ignore the judgement because default judgements issued by U.S. courts without a trial "have no validity in the U.K. and cannot be enforced under the British legal system".

          And though it went through several rounds, the damages supposedly awarded at each stage were never really collectable. In the end, the suit resulted in a $3 (yes, three dollar) judgement, with costs to be met by the other side.

          But if you start from the very beginning saying "You have no jurisdiction", you are not recognising the court jurisdiction at all. As always, such things are best handled by a lawyer, anyway.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Mmmm

            For info, the basis on which the French court asserts jurisdiction is because the alleged prosecutable activity occurred on French soil.

        2. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Mmmm

          In the Spamhaus case, they replied to the state court saying it was a matter that should be considered by a Federal court. Then they ignored the Federal court summons.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mmmm

        Link to Twitter France is https://twitter.com/twitter_fr - the server comes up with a US IP address. Guess the French court is in for a surprise.

        Would also be interested in finding out how they intend to levy the find if Twitter ignore them; after all if Twitter have no assets in France then there is not much the court can do.

  6. Velv Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The Right to Free Speech

    With RIGHTS comes RESPONSIBILITIES

    Freedom of speech was introduced to prevent oppression - it is NOT a licence to say anything you want without consequence (despite what some people think).

    Free speech allows you to defend your own position, it does not give you the right to attack and oppress others. There is a grey area between justifiable criticism and attack, which is why we have courts to weigh the arguments. A court in a respected country has issued a ruling that there is a case to answer - Twitter should release the requested details to the authorities so the alleged perpetrators can be given a fair trial.

    If you believe in freedom of speech, then you should stand behind anything you say. If you need to hide, you probably shouldn't be saying it.

    1. Franklin
      Thumb Down

      Re: The Right to Free Speech

      "If you need to hide, you probably shouldn't be saying it."

      You can't be serious.

      There are a number of legitimate reasons why a person might need to hide his identity while exercising free speech, speech that a government finds embarassing being just one of the more obvious ones.

    2. Jay Holmes

      Re: The Right to Free Speech

      I really can't understand the reason for someone downvoting your post. It is perfect common sense that although you do have the right to free speech it should be tempered with a social responsibility to not act like a twat and use your so called "free speech" to abuse people from behind a mask of an anonymous username.

      Walk into town see someone that looks like they have eaten far too many pies, your "free speech" means you can go and tell them, however common sense and social responsibility tell you that you cannot do that, without some kind of reprisal.

    3. Graham Dawson

      Re: The Right to Free Speech

      How, exactly, do words oppress someone?

      The right to free speech is precisely what it says: the right to speak. You may exercise responsibility along with that right if you wish, but the right itself is nothing more or less than what it is: we have vocal cords, we can use them. It has no moral or ethical dimension, it is simply an acknowledgement of the natural state of the world. Codified in law, it becomes a requirement that the state not interfere with that right.

      Free speech is one of the natural rights (or god-given rights if you're so inclined), also known as negative rights. A negative right has no requirement that others give up their rights to support yours. I can speak freely all day without anyone having to give up anything in order to support that right. No sacrifice of another's rights must be made to grant me my freedom of speech.

      1. Jay Holmes

        Re: The Right to Free Speech

        I don't disagree with you entirely. The only bit I do disagree with is "You may exercise responsibility along with that right if you wish" as you can see from the excerpt below from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So in one sense you "May" exercise responsibility along with that right, but if you don't then you can't really expect to not get held accountable. Like you (seem to be using a proper name ;-) ) I use my actual name when posting here as I have no problems with what I say being attributed to me. Yet so many people post as AC (it seems imho) just to say whatever they want!

        The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that "[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals".

      2. Velv Silver badge

        Re: The Right to Free Speech

        "How, exactly, do words oppress someone?"

        Kids have committed suicide following cyber bullying. I'm fairly sure that's words causing oppression.

    4. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: The Right to Free Speech

      Downvoted primarily for the third paragraph and the notion that speech, however nasty or objectionable, constitutes either attack or oppression. I assume the several others did so for similar reasons.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Right to Free Speech

      "If you need to hide, you probably shouldn't be saying it."

      I find it quite literally chilling that there are people who both believe as you do and claim to respect freedom of thought and speech while simultaneously issuing caveats that gut the meaning of the words beyond recognition.

      Freedom of speech exists not in spite of the fact that people say things other people find offensive - it exists because people say things that other people find offensive.

      The people in this thread ranting about 'freedom coming with responsibility' are doing so without considering the ramifications of someone else's idea of responsibility being applied to their ideas of freedom.

      The Chinese government, for example, considers its policy precisely the same way: In China, you have complete freedom of speech as long as you don't abuse it and hurt social harmony by attacking the Communist Party. And of course you need to attach your name to your speech on the internet - if you need to hide, you probably shouldn't be saying it. Right?

      Right?

      1. Jay Holmes

        Re: The Right to Free Speech

        If you would like to consider my "ranting" with regards to "freedom coming with responsibility" then have the decency to consider it in context.

        Nowhere do I mention the draconian laws the Chinese are held to!

        Since this case happened in Europe, I quoted European law so yes they do have a responsibility and be accountable for their actions. The fact is if people dont have the courage to stand up and be counted then nothing will get changed. Making anonymous comments or acting anonymously doesnt get anybody anywhere.

        Tell me one thing that has changed (for the better) since the London Riots, where lots of people covered up their identities in an effort to make a stand. What that stand was nobody really knows, but there were a lot of cheap tellys going round the area afterwards!

        What exactly has Anonymous achieved in real terms!!

        Julian Assange tried quoting freedom of speech when he released confidential diplomatic cables, they are confidential for a reason. Everybody held him up to be some kind of hero, your medical records are confidential would you be happy if he spread those around for everyone to see. The fact that by leaking those files led to real people getting killed, but "hey fuck it!" they were soldiers it was their job.

        Although everybody has the right to say or do whatever they want there are laws their for a reason, to stop lines from being crossed. You have the freedom to walk into a Porsche garrage and take any car that is just sat there. Unfortunately there is a law to stop you from doing that.

        You can call someone a faggot, nigger, fat twat. Believe it or not there are laws that stop you doing this as well. Its not simply a case of supressing your freedom of speech. Its supressing your freedom to be a twat!! Some people have thicker skin than others, someone comes up to me and calls me a nasty name I will probably ignore it the person next to me may take exception to being called the same thing. Thats when it becomes offensive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Right to Free Speech

          "Making anonymous comments or acting anonymously doesnt get anybody anywhere."

          This is demonstrably untrue. You've never heard of 'subversive' literature published under pseudonyms? Of people communicating in code to avoid detection by an occupying force? Seriously?!

          "Tell me one thing that has changed (for the better) since the London Riots, where lots of people covered up their identities in an effort to make a stand."

          You take one example of a big-ass riot where people wanted to be anonymous - which is kind of going to be by definition for any situation where you're doing something illegal and don't want to go to jail - and assert that the lack of positive results from that single event means that anonymous speech is useless?

          I'm really not sure how to respond to that. Riots are by definition people acting out of control and breaking the law - of freaking course they wanted to be anonymous! So what? Mobsters prefer to be anonymous also; that doesn't mean anonymity itself is bad - that reasoning would suggest that since not having your position tracked by the government aids in your committing crimes, that there's no reason not to have your location tracked.

          As for your examples - well, the first one involves people who were rioting; that, by definition, is not speech. They wanted to remain anonymous about their rioting, not about their opinions. The example carries no weight.

          The second example involves Wikileaks - but Julian Assange wasn't anonymous! The guy who leaked the information tried to be, but he got caught in spite of being anonymous.

          Additionally - and I hate to trot this one out, but it seems apt in this case - straaaaaw man! You say you dislike anonymous speech, but the examples you give refer in one case not to speech and in the other case not to anonymity; in both cases you suggest that rioting, theft, and the deaths of soldiers are apparently what one is choosing when one supports anonymous speech. Sorry, but it's just not so; not only is your man straw, but it's the wrong man - you're beating up the wrong opponent.

          If you'd like, you can peruse this document - from the Yale Law School, which may or may not carry more weight with you than, say, Wikipedia:

          http://yalelawjournal.org/images/pdfs/989.pdf

          Part II begins:

          Speech is, and has long been, intricately tied to the popular sovereignty underpinnings of our constitutional government.

          The United States has a rich and complex history of both anonymous speech and compelled disclosure.

          These historic practices have often coexisted in ways that suggest that they need not be in tension.

          These people don't sound like Blackberry-brandishing chav rioters or ill-studied, starry-eyed idealists to me.

          You stated: "Making anonymous comments or acting anonymously doesnt get anybody anywhere."

          The Yale Law School disagrees:

          Anonymous publications have profoundly shaped American history going back to the colonial era.

          A series of essays about free speech and liberty known pseudonymously as “Cato’s Letters” appeared in 1720.

          Other colonialera examples include a series of pamphlets criticizing Tory-minded English ministers that were published in the London Political Advertiser and reprinted in colonial newspapers under the pseudonym “Junius.”

          The famous pamphlet Common Sense, widely recognized for its impact on the nascent independence movement, was originally published under the simple pseudonym “An Englishman.”

          Is that a good enough example? If not, there's more. Dozens of pages of it.

          And while the previous bit does quite well enough in making my point, I have to say that I'd prefer not to live in a country where I can be fined and/or jailed for saying someone is a fat twat. Perhaps there are countries in which that is the case - but as far as I'm concerned, they don't deserve to call themselves free nations. Believe it or not, you do indeed - at least in the United States, and should have elsewhere (forgive my ethnocentrism) - have the freedom to be a twat. Hell, you're being a bit of a twat for implying that I somehow particularly advocate the speech of twats. Are you guilty? Who knows. Who decides? Are you comfortable with those people deciding? Is 'fat twat' enough? What about just 'fat'? What about 'pleasantly plump'? What if you say 'skinny awesome dude' but say it sarcastically?

          When does the government intervene?

          And how, pray tell, is what I'm about to say the equivalent of stealing a Porsche, you fat twat?

          Oh, I'm a criminal... but hang on - I insulted you as part of a political discussion. So how should the government approach that? You were genuinely insulted, perhaps, and that's what the law affects. But does that mean that it's legal to call a thick-skinned person a fat twat but not a sensitive type? Suppose someone frustrates you and you say, "Oh, for Christ's sake!" - and they happen to be extremely sensitive to that kind of thing? Is it a crime, then? Who judges precisely how offended the 'victim' is? What gives them that right? Should the serially-offended leave a trail of jailed passers-by?

          Or do you just assume that the law would naturally base itself on what you happen to find offensive in particular, and not consider that your political speech may be someone else's blasphemy?

          I wonder.

          1. Jay Holmes

            Re: The Right to Free Speech

            OK point taken, Subversive Literature probably does have its place as a catalyst to wake real people up who take a stand publicly. Subversive Literature by itself does nothing. People talking in code to avoid detection, agreed when this is used to good effect it works.

            I asked about the London Riots, that were borne out of a so called peaceful protest. Most people decided to protest anonymously, masked up just like the student (University Tuition) protests.

            My second point asked what Anonymous had done, havent really found out yet other than annoy people they havent really changed anything have they?

            Correct Assange wasnt being annonymous the person supplying him the information was trying (doing a bad job of it too!) to be anonymous, but do you think if he had just been saying nasty things about the government they would of even bothered with him. Or do you think he got caught because he was doing something illegal??

            You quote "American" law at me then, something which has no relevance to either my comments or the article in question.

            Granted the Junius pamphlets did a hell of a lot for reforming the way most of Europe deal with things politically and democratically and they were written anonymously. But they didnt abuse people on the basis of their religion did they?

            Since you just jumped to conclusions regarding what I had typed and obviously didn't read it, heres a quick summary

            Freedom = Do what you want!

            Law = Stop the bits of freedom that may hurt people!

            Hopefully that was nice and simple for you, you dumb fuck!! (< see now Im insulting you as part of a political discussion, doesnt make it any less insulting though does it??)

            "Or do you just assume that the law would naturally base itself on what you happen to find offensive in particular, and not consider that your political speech may be someone else's blasphemy?"

            Nope I dont assume this at all, since I can find it written down in law I have no need to assume this>> See below stunningly relevant (unlike your law quotes) to this article law (that I have previously quoted and has obviously been ignored)

            "The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that "[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals".

            Its that last line that gives me (and coincidentally all the right to find offense in what people say "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health and morals"

            Does the following mean (in your own words) they don't deserve to call themselves free nations?

            Here is the corresponding American Law (take note of Para 2 parts a and b, look familiar?)

            Article 13. Freedom of Thought and Expression

            1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive,

            and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the

            form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice.

            2. The exercise of the right provided for in the foregoing paragraph shall not be subject to prior censorship but

            shall be subject to subsequent imposition of liability, which shall be expressly established by law to the extent

            necessary to ensure:

            a. respect for the rights or reputations of others; or

            b. the protection of national security, public order, or public health or morals.

            3. The right of expression may not be restricted by indirect methods or means, such as the abuse of

            government or private controls over newsprint, radio broadcasting frequencies, or equipment used in the

            dissemination of information, or by any other means tending to impede the communication and circulation of

            ideas and opinions.

            4. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 2 above, public entertainments may be subject by law to prior

            censorship for the sole purpose of regulating access to them for the moral protection of childhood and

            adolescence.

            5. Any propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitute incitements

            to lawless violence or to any other similar action against any person or group of persons on any grounds

        2. Steen Hive
          Facepalm

          Re: The Right to Free Speech

          "The fact that by leaking those files led to real people getting killed, but "hey fuck it!" they were soldiers it was their job."

          You are either dissembling, or you have a cognitive disorder. Leaking those files showed REAL people being murdered - by a helicopter gunship acting more-or-less on your behalf.

          1. Jay Holmes
            FAIL

            Re: The Right to Free Speech

            No what those videos showed was the over zealous nature of my American colleagues in prosecuting genuine targets in a war zone!

            I assume that is what you are on about?

            Since those were not the only files that were released please feel free (as is your right) to ignore everything else and focus on that.

    6. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: The Right to Free Speech @ Velv

      There is a long and noble tradition of anonymous pamphleteering in most European countries going back to just about the invention of the printing press. For more recent examples, look up "Samizdat" sometime - something you might well decide is acceptable use of anonymous use of the written word.

      The danger with saying "This speech is acceptable and this isn't" is that minority views cannot get air, and therefore cannot be dealt with by discussion. I can understand the pov of the Jews - discussion of their minority views has never really got them anywhere (there have been too many pogroms for them not to have learned that), but I still don't agree with banning free speech about any group.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Intractable Potsherd Re: The Right to Free Speech @ Velv

        ".....but I still don't agree with banning free speech about any group." Whilst against banning, I would still expect that statements should be challengeable in a court of law, and where proven to be factually inaccurate should be legally forced to be removed and publicly apologised for. If a sinister motive rather than ignorance is found in court to be the root of the issue - a so-called "hate-crime" - then there should be an associated punishment for the perpetrator, including full publication of their names and identities. Giving people the ability to hide behind anonymity should be chalengeable in court, though if the perp.'s statements turn to to be correct and factual then I support the idea of their owner's identity being protected.

        For example, saying you disagree with the aims of Zionism is an opinion, but saying all Jews are descended from pigs and apes is racism and should not be protected either by "free speech" or claims of historical religion

  7. localzuk

    Jurisdiction

    Just like the German injunctions that were faxed to me for hosting animal lab videos a decade ago, this judgement has no grounding as it lacks jurisdiction.

    They can if they wish, just ignore it, but the French seem to be a persistent bunch so no doubt they'd bring in a law to censor the site instead - like they're trying to bring one in to tax big websites individually.

    Me? I'd say ignore it, like I did with my injunctions.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear

    Will they have to set up a committee to decide what is an anti-Semitic bile. What about the Scots, French, American rednecks, kings and Queens ... If I consider Nethanyahu a prick am I then anti-Semitic.

    And what is the Union of French Jewish Students going to do with all that data they ask for. Send letterbombs or something.

    I am against racist behaviour and speech but I cannot see how this could help change the world for the better for anyone. Why not try to grow a slightly thicker skin instead, French Jewish Students.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "set up an easy system for people to report offensive tweets."

    Really, thats very subjective. All tweets are offensive to me! Your don't hear me crying like a little girl.

    Honestly, I'd sue right back.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They could do as the USA

    The next time a twitter exec changes planes in France, arrest him.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: They could do as the USA

      Surely a European Arrest Warrant for a select number of EU/US Twitter execs will make life very interesting.

  11. billse10
    Megaphone

    twitter.fr vs Twitter Inc

    An IP geo-lookup on the first IP address i got for twitter.fr shows it being located in San Francisco. The one in the US, not the one in France. If there is one in France. It looks a little like we have a French court ordering a US company to make changes to a US-hosted website, because of something that is not an offence under US law, and fining it if it does not obey. Let's hope Twitter management have a sense of humour, and removes all physical assets from France, and publishes it's twitter.fr T&Cs from California. with English as the only authoritative version, embedding something unpleasant like the right to send unlimited advertising to twitter.fr users as a way to recover the costs this court is trying to impose.

    This is almost as ridiculous as Russian / Ukrainian / etc oligarchs being able to sue each other in UK courts for things that didnt happen in UK.

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: twitter.fr vs Twitter Inc

      What the french courts could do is sieze the twitter.fr domain name (this IS in french jurisdiction) and possibly force French ISPs to redirect twitter.anything to a null placeholder.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. billse10

        Re: twitter.fr vs Twitter Inc

        they could - and they'd look incredibly petty for doing so (if they've been following UK courts when it comes to Internet stuff, they can learn how to do that really quickly). Alternatively they should prove they have jurisdiction over content published in other countries - or, more logically, they should simply claim jurisdiction over the person responsible for "importing" the content to France. That opens a new can of worms, of course. Or rather, cans of worms.

        Still doesn't sort an issue raised by the second area i mentioned - people from outside the UK suing each other in UK courts because a website, merely accessible from UK but not hosted, edited or controlled from here, is visible from here. Only an idiot judge would claim such a website is published here wouldn't they -but some have?

        Where is a website published? Take a site hosted by Amazon EC2 multiple locations in the US, having a Swedish domain name, but edited by someone in UK today but Ireland tomorrow, accessed via a TOR connection that could go pretty much anywhere, with content cached left right and centre? Where is that content published? A book isn't published in the UK simply because I can flick through it on the bookshelves of Foyles on Charing Cross Road.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unmask the froggy racists? too easy.

    I've visited France, and think it would be harder to unmask the non-racists.

    1. Steen Hive
      WTF?

      Re: Unmask the froggy racists? too easy.

      Child's play to unmask mere xenophobes, though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unmask the froggy racists? too easy.

        as an islander it comes as second nature - now were is my fish, dammit!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How long before Twitter is shut down?

    Barely a day goes by without some incident related to Twitter. I'm afraid the concept of being able to shout your every thought to the entire internet, unmonitored is flawed from the start and theres little that'll change that. Get rid, it serves no purpose whatsoever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How long before Twitter is shut down?

      I don't know, come the day of the revolution it will provide a handy list of those to be sent to the salt mines...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Re: How long before Twitter is shut down?

      "the concept of being able to shout your every thought... is flawed from the start... Get rid, it serves no purpose whatsoever."

      You first.

  14. mark l 2 Silver badge
    Joke

    How dare France try to impose its law on a US company, Don't France realise that its the US law that can be implemented world wide?

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Joke

      It is about a Jewish group of students in France who, through some hard to understand methods, have accomplished this. I suppose the atmosphere against multinationals making business in Europe while avoiding taxes could have something to do with it. I am still very curious about how this is possible at all.

      Joke alert, although your joke was much better.

      1. Roger Mew

        french heresy

        Mmm just a thought, 1/ many French jews were given to the nasties in the second world war, 2/ today many gestapo laws still stand, We are still not in Brittany, but in Pays de loire. 3/ What language was spoken in Morroco, oh yes frog, and they HATE the Yids.

        Late breaking News, France declares war on all countries not liking Israel and speaking French or having French speakers!

        Der! sounds like a load of rubbish, come on French gov stick to nicking motorists for not breathing correctly!

        J'habite en France et je connait plus bien le situation en France.

  15. The Grump
    Pirate

    Can't Twitter simply purchase an island outside national borders, and transmit from there ? Call it "Internet Island". Then tell these judges (and Imams) to open a nice frosty can of Shut the F*** Up when they get all arrogant and full of themselves. Please note that the French Judge is unnamed - an anonymous coward.

    I'd buy an island like that if I could afford it. Booze, drugs, sex, gambling, nude beaches, cricket, you name it, I would have it. It would make Vegas look like a catholic church.

    [Threw cricket in there to see if you were paying attention] :)

    1. Chad H.

      The pirate bay solution?

      Basically, someone would eventually send in the troops, or go after the Internet provider.

  16. Roger Mew

    Stupid rhetoric (possibly posted anon also!

    Thing is IF the people had used a VPN then the French government could piss up the wall, further, its not just France that speaks French, nor is it the only language spoken in France. Frankly, like everything else the French government do they have no idea how the internet works, nor most things like that they infact are still under the impression that nothing else exists outside or other than France.

    If I were the bosses of twitter then I would give the French government some addresses in say Vietnam, or Africa French speaking, or even some parts of South America.

    Do remember that parts of the world still are against the yids.

    Just suppose that the perpetrators "habite en faite en Iran". What are the French govt going to do then... Bomb Iran!

    Stupid unenforceable rhetoric. Oh guess where I live, yep, France, do I speak French nah! why do I live here? Because its akin to the UK 50 years ago except for speed cameras. However we do not pay road tax!!

  17. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Joke

    Gosh!

    "......The social network was sued .... to reveal the identities of those behind the vile messages....." I didn't know Lib Dem MP David Ward had a Twitter account.

  18. MrZoolook
    Trollface

    If the 'culprit' is French...

    ... will the authorities then try and tax Twitter for the use of a French citizen (or their work/identity/personal details etc), as they seem keen on doing now it seems?

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