France Won’t Ban Public Wi-Fi, Tor, French PM Says

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Bans on public Wi-Fi and Tor were ruled out by French Prime Minister Manual Valls this week as part of the government’s security response to the November terrorist attacks on Paris. The Prime Minister Valls also indicated on Wednesday that France will not force social media providers to allow users to be monitored, despite law enforcement requests.

Valls said that “a ban of Wi-Fi is not a course of action envisaged,” and he does not support a ban on Tor, The Connexion reports.

French law enforcement had asked lawmakers to “require [service] providers to give security forces access codes,” French police liaison body DLPAJ said. Valls also spoke against that requirement, saying, “Internet is a freedom, is an extraordinary means of communication between people, it is a benefit to the economy.”

French newspaper Le Monde reports that France’s Department of Civil Liberties and Legal Affairs had prepared a document for the Interior Ministry suggesting the bans be considered for inclusion in a bill applying to the state of emergency, and another bill applying to anti-terrorism measures when the state of emergency is lifted.

France’s state of emergency is due to expire on Feb. 26, but could be extended, as Valls acknowledged may be necessary.

Meanwhile on Wednesday US Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) told the Senate Judiciary Committee she will attempt to craft a bill allowing law enforcement to “pierce” encryption with a warrant. The Daily Dot reports that FBI director James Comey is also warning big tech companies about the “risks” on encryption.

“We understand that encryption is a very important part of being secure on the Internet. We also all care about public safety. We also see a collision course between those two things,” Comey said in an FBI oversight hearing.

Tech companies like Microsoft and Google, other companies like MongoDB, and open-source communities like the Linux Foundation have made abundantly clear that they want to encourage encryption with updates this year.

Alibaba-owned UC Browser may have leaked personal data to spy agencies by transmitting it without encryption, researchers said in May.

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