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10/21/2016
French Lawmakers Seek To Re-Ban Facebook Speed Camera Warnings
French deputy cites homeland security law as precedent for a new law to ban anti-photo radar comments on Facebook.

Jean-Pierre Grand
A French politician wants to make it a crime to comment on Facebook about the location of speed cameras. In a written question last week to the Interior Minister, Senator Jean-Pierre Grand, who also serves as mayor of Castelnau-Le-Lez, asked what could be done to overturn September's high court decision clearing fourteen motorists who had faced criminal charges after they posted negative memes about speed cameras on Facebook and revealed camera locations (view ruling).

The Cassation Court ruled that prosecutors were wrong to apply a law banning radar detectors to the use of a social media website. It held that the statute prohibited devices, not notifications about the locations of cameras. Grand insisted that bans on revealing the location of police should also apply to public comments about speed cameras.

"In today's digital world, it is important to prohibit [not only] a technique but also conduct," Grand wrote. "While the state of emergency is in force in our country, reporting the location of roadside [speed] checks and therefore the presence of law enforcement constitutes a major source of information for offenders and even for terrorists."

Grand suggested that a law could be drafted that would withstand judicial scrutiny. He cited as precedent for this an anti-terrorist law that took effect on March 22 in response to a series of Islamic terror attacks, including the murder of 129 people in Paris in November 2015. The law reformed procedures dealing with mass transit by setting out, for instance, the authority of police to search luggage and detain a bus for up to thirty minutes, if needed. Buried within the law was a provision imposing a 3750 euro (US $4110) fine for revealing "by any means" the presence of inspectors on buses and trains.

"So it's possible to write a law prohibiting all forms of signaling the presence of law enforcement," Grand noted.

Grand asked the Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, how he intended to respond to the high court. The minister is responsible for running the country's 4600 speed cameras, which generate 844 million euros (US $920 million) in revenue each year. Cazeneuve has not yet responded.



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