Euronews 17 Nov 2020

French MPs mull criminalising the sharing of police pictures online


France is debating a new law that would make it illegal to share images of police officers on social media.

The french government has proposed a sweeping new security bill, following a series of recent terror attacks. Among other things, the new law would make it a criminal offense to publish images of police officers with intent to cause them harm. It's sparked an outcry among journalist unions and free speech campaigners.

Several thousand people marched in French cities on Saturday to protest a draft law that would make it a crime to circulate an image of a police officer's face with the intention that they be harmed, in a move condemned as an afront to press freedom. Offenders would face a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison and a €45,000 ($53,000) fine.

Supporters of the law say police officers and their families need protection from harassment, both online and in-person when off duty. Opponents say the law would infringe journalists' freedom to report, and make it harder to hold police accountable for abuses such as excessive use of force.

Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on the bill on Tuesday. In July, three French police officers were charged with manslaughter over the death of a delivery man, Cedric Chouviat, that bystanders caught on video. Chouviat's death had similarities with the killing of George Floyd in the United States, which sparked mass protests around the world, including in France.
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France's parliament voted to approve a controversial law Friday that will ban the publication of images of on-duty police officers as well as expand the use of surveillance drones and police powers. Journalists' groups, human rights activists and unions -  including Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International's French branch  -  organised protests in Paris and other French cities on Saturday.
France's government has dropped a controversial draft law that would restrict the sharing or filming of images of the police.
The bill sparked large protests on Saturday, after a video of police beating a black man in Paris went viral.
Michel Zecler needed stitches after officers attacked him in his music studio.
Critics said it could prevent people from exposing police injustices. A new version of the bill will be submitted.

Al Jazeera's Natacha Butler reports from Paris, France.

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