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French Court Orders ISP To Block Police Misconduct Website 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-look-at-that dept.
Freddybear writes "A French court has ordered ISPs to block access to Copwatch Nord Paris I-D-F, a website designed to allow civilians to post videos of alleged police misconduct. French police unions applauded the decision. Jean-Claude Delage, secretary general of the APN, said that '[t]he judges have analyzed the situation perfectly—this site being a threat to the integrity of the police — and made the right decision.'"
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French Court Orders ISP To Block Police Misconduct Website

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  • French justice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp (111690) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:23AM (#37771002) Homepage

    this site being a threat to the integrity of the police

    I would say that something else, and not a Web site, is a threat to the integrity of the police.

    • Words matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by femto (459605) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:29AM (#37771042) Homepage

      It's bad for the integrity of policing. Good for the integrity of the police.

      • Re:Words matter (Score:5, Informative)

        by TechLA (2482532) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:39AM (#37771086)
        The site wasn't really for the purpose the summary and article make it sound like. It mainly collected personal information, addresses and even social networking accounts of police officers. Europe takes privacy of private persons much more seriously than US, and the information was even used for making threats.

        The police had said they were particularly concerned about portions of the site showing identifiable photos of police officers, along with personal data â" including some cases in which officers are said to express far-right sympathies on social networks. The initial complaint against the site was filed by a Paris police officer who said he had received a bullet in his mailbox after his picture had appeared on the site. He was joined by other officers.

        I'm all for making police actions more transparent, but single police officers should have some privacy regarding their personal life too.

        • And why were policemen exposed on this webpage? Just for being policemen?

          • Re:Words matter (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mikael_j (106439) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:19AM (#37771222)

            My experience, from Sweden, is that some people are dicks. That's about it.

            We have a couple of local cops who are hated by lots of people in their twenties for reasons that seem to mostly revolve around those particular cops being part of the local police department's "youth group" that focuses both on solving crimes committed by teenagers but also keeping an eye on what goes on in local parks in the summer and such things. I know that for a while there was a website that posted a bunch of personal information about one of them.

            So basically, some people feel that they are justified in being dicks if the cops ruin their (illegal) fun. I myself have met these particular police officers a few times late at night, the worst that I've ever been subjected to was a "please don't drink beer in public south of that bridge, local ordinances say you can't drink in public south of there"...

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by gl4ss (559668)

              so.. they're in a group that actively engages youth, "i'm police officer balbablab you can come to talk me about blablabal", in cases like that the expection of privacy really goes out of the window, the smaller the city the more it goes out of the window(and the more local power they have).

              but if there's _any_ group of persons who should expect less privacy than the rest, it should be the cops and court system officials. why? because they decide about the privacy of the rest and have special rights about i

              • Re:Words matter (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Kjella (173770) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @04:10AM (#37771620) Homepage

                but if there's _any_ group of persons who should expect less privacy than the rest, it should be the cops and court system officials.

                I don't think there should be any expectation of privacy for an officer on duty, anything you do wearing the uniform should be up for scrutiny. But that is their day job, when they take off the uniform and go home I think they should have the same protections as everyone else. In fact, it's very few other occupations that so often lead to harassment, vandalization or outright threats against yourself or our family. By enforcing the law you're attracting the anger of people that have very little problem breaking the law.

                I'm not talking primarily about the big stuff, like when the mafia or drug lords go to more or less outright war against the police, judges and juries. But more like "There's lives the asshole who caught me shoplifting, let's egg his car and stab the tires" kind of thing. I suppose in a small town everybody would know anyway, but in the city it wouldn't normally be that easy. Exposing their private lives is far more likely to give people the means for intimidation to prevent them doing their jobs or leave the force than to keep them honest.

                I mean if you were doing any serious coverup for somebody, would you have them listed as your friend on a social networking site? It'd be a pretty blatant conflict of interest, if anything you'd try to it indirectly so your name doesn't come up. And your home address, yeah uh huh so check that you're not covering for your neighbors right? Oh please, that's got almost zero legitimate uses and plenty bad ones. It's far more likely to be used in a "we know where you live and everybody you care about" kind of way.

                • by gl4ss (559668)

                  being a police officer isn't a day job.
                  being a rent-a-cop mall security guard. yes, that would qualify as a day job - they got no special rights after hours. police officers do.

                  of course that would need them to throw some expectancies out of the window the day they take the job and would need a reform in the judical system in general, geared towards more transparency and less personal choices by cops on the street - which is actually needed sorely, as you can't even read from the law books now what sanction

                  • by TechLA (2482532)
                    Police officers don't have special rights after hours, not at least here. And since France is another EU country, I think it's somewhat similar. They may know how to handle situations better and people might assume so if they know he is a police officer, but legally speaking there's no special rights.
                    • by Tacvek (948259)

                      The French code of criminal procedure does not distinguish between on-duty and off duty judicial police officers. Indeed the only thing even remotely close is Article 59, which (under normal circumstances) limits searches and house visits to between 6 am and 9 pm.

                      It is possible that the non-codified laws or regulations limit them, but they appear to have all their rights and protections all the time.

                • by Hatta (162192)

                  But that is their day job, when they take off the uniform and go home I think they should have the same protections as everyone else.

                  I agree. Except that the "same protections" should be none. I use mice for research in my work. If PETA wants to come set up camp on my sidewalk and protest, that's their right. If protestors want to follow a cop home and protest there, that's their right too.

            • The problem is that, in France, there are serious cases of police misconduct that need to be reported, e.g. in responses to demonstrations, treatment of suspects, and handling of investigation evidence.

              And at the same time, people are being dicks to police because they, well, are dicks.

              The heart of the issue is that there's really not much of a middle ground anyone trusts - French police groups are terrified that dicks will be dicks, and the people who put their stock in sites like Copwatch IdF don't trust

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          I'm all for making police actions more transparent, but single police officers should have some privacy regarding their personal life too.

          The French must have a different idea of what it means to be a public servant than we do.
          How is the contesnts of this website any different than someone compiling the same information and releasing it in print?

        • by Adhemar (679794)

          It’s perfectly possible that the website disclosed personal information, addresses, social network details and political affiliations of the police officers. And it’s understandable that the police say they are particularly concerned about those portions. I haven’t seen the site.

          But I have read the judgment. And the justification of the website ban does not mention police officer’s personal information as a reason for the ban. Instead, the Court explains that it objects to certain la

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          I understand why the photos has to be removed or the faces in them blurred out, but what's the problem with posting data THEY made publicly available on Facebook?

        • by Hatta (162192)

          I'm all for making police actions more transparent, but single police officers should have some privacy regarding their personal life too.

          Why? If you're afraid of the consequences if your neighbors find out what you do, maybe you should be doing something else. If the public is so outraged at cops, maybe they should fix their behavior instead of going into hiding.

      • Why only show law enforcement goofs, sometimes the bad guys do some pretty stupid stuff also.
        • Why only show law enforcement goofs, sometimes the bad guys do some pretty stupid stuff also.

          You typically expect the bad guys to do stupid things - usually what they are getting arrested for! Less so with the police.

    • Much to the dismay of Slashdot, there are many good cops out there. Unfortunately, like anything else, there are plenty of bad ones as well. As is life...
      That being said, in this case, the only ones threatening the integrity of the police, are the police.

    • You know.. now that they've blocked this site, there is no way the videos will ever be posted on the internet where people can see them. ;-)

      hehehe

  • "this site being a threat to the integrity of the police..."
    No, I think the actions of the police threaten their own integrity. A case of "you can't handle the truth...".
    • by TechLA (2482532) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:43AM (#37771106)
      They don't have a trouble if someone documents polices wrongful actions. They have a trouble with site that collects and lists police officers private home addresses, which lead them to receive threats via mail. The site also tried to show if police officers personal political opinion is right or left.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Sounds completely valid to me. Governments collect data on their citizens. Is it not also valid for their citizens to collect data on the government? Especially the police, which is prone to corruption and misuse of power? To not allow oversight is only acknowledging that there are problems which politicians will refuse to solve. Making it blatant by blacklisting the source of some oversight should only make the problem more obvious, so hopefully more sites will be started to provide the same service.
        • by maroberts (15852)

          There is an obvious balance between the right of freedom of expression and on the other side a right to a private life, and both sides could probably make a Human Rights case. The European Convention on Human Rights is a set of balances; whilst a site which documented police abuse of power would probably be protected by the ECHR, a site which crossed the line by publishing private addresses of police with a view to harassing or threatening them would not be protected.

        • by N1AK (864906) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @03:33AM (#37771492) Homepage
          You expect people to take your support of people posting police officers personal information on a website seriously, when you you're not only posting on a forum that doesn't post your personal details but doing so using an optional feature to be 'anonymous'? Good luck with that.
          • What are you talking about? Are you saying that because he did not have his private information exposed, that means his opinion is invalid (or that you think it is)? If so, I don't see how that is. I believe his current situation is irrelevant.

            "If you were in X situation, you'd change your mind!" That can be used for just about anything.

            Or you could be saying that since he has not had his private information exposed here, that means that his criticisms and opinions are invalid (or that you think it is). But

    • by xenobyte (446878)

      Instead of using the personal names, addresses etc. of the listed police officers, use badge numbers or similar. That way you avoid getting too personal while still being able to accurately identify each officer. Providing personal info is getting too close in a very unconstructive way, a way that just asks for morons to send bullets in the mail and similar.

      Now document every accusation. If you want to accuse a certain officer of brutality or other misconduct, document it using video or similar. Then it can

    • Actually, I have seen several posts already that changed my mind on this ruling. The first is something someone else posted in reply to already: the site was listing the home address of police officers, apparently irrespective of whether or not that officer had abused his authority as a police officer (I am not sure that I would agree with releasing that private info even if the officer had abused his authority, but if he hasn't than there is no business with it being publicized). Second, someone posted abo
  • Privacy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:28AM (#37771036)

    This site was giving full names and adresses of Police officers, this is why it was closed.

    • So being a police officer is equivalent to being a CIA agent now? Nobody knows who you are or where you live?
      • It's not illegal to know the address of someone, but it's illegal to aggregate it in a database where anyone can easily look it up, and make it public. Not any different from privacy violations by Facebook.

        (the above, of course, applies to specific European countries with strong privacy protections, and not to US)

  • What is a threat to the integrity of the police IS the misconduct that has been documented by citizens. The antidote is sunshine in the form of accountability provided by these documents.

    • by symes (835608)

      The problem here is that a video does not neccessarily accurately document misconduct. Classic example might be police arresting a violent out of control offender who resists. The video would probably not capture the offense, just the end point where officers are physically restraining the perpetrator. It is not difficult to edit some footage to make it look like the police were behaving unreasonably. Should the full facts be known casual observers might come to an entirely different conclusion. Instead the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:31AM (#37771048)

    While I am no fan of censorship at all, the issue here is that this fFrench version of Copwatch was not so much about showing police abuse than collecting some cops personnal data. In some areas of France, being a cop is all the reason you need for being assaulted, and when a website lists your name and address... not good.

    • by cusco (717999)
      If so, there is probably a reason. People don't normally assault guys known to carry guns without a damn good reason.
      • Of course there is a reason. Some people want to do things that are illegal, the police are there to try and stop them/catch them so that they can be punished. Additionally, the police, also, are a necessary function to maintain the order needed to keep a society function, some people wish to see society to cease to function so that they can seize power (even if only over a small area).
        • Additionally, the police, also, are a necessary function to maintain the order needed to keep a society function

          Too bad the majority of the laws enforced by the police have nothing to do with keeping society functioning. Societies do not break down because a woman is wearing a burkha or because someone snorts some cocaine. If the only thing the police did was to keep the public safe, by arrested people who pose an immediate threat, your argument would hold water.

          • It is not the job, or function, of the police to determine what is illegal. If you have a problem with what is, or is not, illegal, that is not a problem with the police (except insofar as you ignore the fact that it is illegal). Societies do not break down because a woman wears a burka. However, a society may break down because a large number of "women" wear a burka (quotes are there because how do you know that all of the people wearing burkas are women?). Certainly, all of the societies where a majority
    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @10:42AM (#37774622) Journal

      In some areas of France, being a cop is all the reason you need for being assaulted

      The solution to that is to earn a reputation for integrity. Not to go into hiding. If the people are so upset with government that cops are arbitrarily targeted, that's a symptom of a problem far deeper than a website distributing public information. A police force that is held in such extreme contempt by the people deserves to wither and die.

  • by jmcbain (1233044) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:33AM (#37771058)
    then you have nothing to be worried about. That's the usual post-9/11 line of thought, yet?
    • While I agree with you that everyone deserves privacy, you also have to remember that a lot of cops work undercover and having their photos posted on a website with their name/address/etc puts them and their families in serious danger.
      • As you mention "undercover" specifically, I have to think you are thinking of criminals (prior to their harassing, that is) in particular doing the threatening. What makes you think that organized crime does not keep such information, specifically for the purposes of identifying cops that are working undercover?

        What this decision is doing, is keeping the *random* crazies and disorganized criminals from harassing the police.

        • Because organized crime doesn't HAVE that information until some jackass posts it on a website for all to see. Names of police officers are trivial to get (public record), photos are much more difficult. Especially since most cops that work undercover go to great length to not be photographed.
    • by Myopic (18616)

      I think the police are worried about different opinions on what is "wrong". If an officer arrests you for shoplifting, and you think it's "wrong" of the officer to do that, and you go use this website to find his house and burn it down -- well then, tell me Mr McBain, does the officer have anything "to be worried about"?

      The line between reasonable and unreasonable is in between the actions of recording the on-duty officers to make sure their on-duty actions are appropriate, versus recording the off-duty off

  • Yeah! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:36AM (#37771072)

    'Cause the police can't maintain their integrity if they're not allowed to beat someone up now and then.

  • The one's that damage the reputation of the police are the bad cops that don't deserve the uniform. As a unionized public servant I get pissed off when one of my coworkers mistreat citizens and we can't be even 10% as armful as a police officer. The union should welcome proof of officers misconduct since that bad officers make people mistrust the whole police force and makes everyone's job harder. Maybe they want worst riots in Paris than the ones in London in the near future to have something to brag about

  • Jean-Claude Delage, secretary general of the APN, said that '[t]he judges have analyzed the situation perfectly—this site being a threat to the integrity of the police — and made the right decision.'

    integrity /integrit/
    Noun: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

    It seems that they have a bit of a problem with their English. A site that shines light onto questionable behaviors promotes integrity, as you should be acting in private in such a way that you can defend your actions if they were to ever become public. It's an intrinsic quality. This is only a threat in newspeak, or if you think perception is reality.

    I guess that statement might make sense if he were talking about the cohesion of the police, but that would imply far greater dissent within their ranks

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It seems that they have a bit of a problem with their English.

      Or rather, there is a problem with this English translation of something said in French.

      The English word integrity is almost always used with the definition you gave. Its cognates in the Romance languages have several other uses, based on the meaning of "wholeness", or "staying in one piece". The English word entire is another cognate with a related meaning.

      Besides translation, we have 2 problems here:

      1. Cops who abuse their power are asshats.
      2. People who violate the personal privacy of cops (whether for t

    • Jean-Claude Delage, secretary general of the APN, said that '[t]he judges have analyzed the situation perfectly—this site being a threat to the integrity of the police — and made the right decision.'

      integrity /integrit/ Noun: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

      It seems that they have a bit of a problem with their English. A site that shines light onto questionable behaviors promotes integrity, as you should be acting in private in such a way that you can defend your actions if they were to ever become public. It's an intrinsic quality. This is only a threat in newspeak, or if you think perception is reality. I guess that statement might make sense if he were talking about the cohesion of the police, but that would imply far greater dissent within their ranks concerning what behaviors have been revealed...

      You are the one with the poor grasp of English. From the dictionary [reference.com]:
      integrity [in-teg-ri-tee] Show IPA
      noun
      2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

      • Just to clarify my point. I didn't mean to say that shutting down the website *actually* preserved the integrity of the French Police. I meant to say that, in this case, it's fairly clear that the meaning of integrity was more in line with:
        the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished:
        rather than:
        the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

        As to whether or not the court decision was correct, it appears that there was more than just video of cops doing nasty a

        • by izomiac (815208)
          Argh, quit being reasonable! I was about to make fun of you for not noticing I'd addressed that possibility in my original post that you quoted, even putting it in italics for emphasis.
    • by unitron (5733)

      Considering that Delage's statement was probably translated from the original French, it could well be that it was integrity in the sense of being whole and unbroken, i.e., unharmed. In other words, he may have meant physical security and safety of individual officers and their families.

  • It's like they've never heard of the Streisand Effect.
  • A good eye-opener (Score:1, Insightful)

    by rapidreload (2476516)

    As an Australian citizen, I've been aware of how fucked our Governement is with regards to our rights. But I've always kept in my mind that the USA are also pretty fucked as well (they might have a Constitution, but due process seems to be getting shafted as time goes on). So then I look at the Brits, and they're fucked as well (too many cameras, among other things). But hey, the Europeans are smart cookies surely? Well, Italy is clearly fucked as well (seriously corrupt Government, not much to redeem there

    • So then I look at the Brits, and they're fucked as well (too many cameras, among other things).

      The problem in Britain is that all of the cameras are Government Cameras. Try taking pictures of almost anything anymore out in public with your own camera where there is no expectation of privacy and the law explicitly permits photography and count how long it takes Inspector Plod to come along and seize your camera anyway you little terrorist.

  • Regardless of how distasteful it is to release that information, trying to censor it will only further publicize the fact that the information exists. The french went about the problem completely wrong. They should have left the information out there and start tracking down prosecuting those who tried to use it in a negative way. I think it is simliar to insutrctions on making a bomb. It's all well and good until you try to do something illegal with the information.
  • To: the government of France. The ISP's may not say it, so I will. PISS OFF.

  • by jezwel (2451108) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:19AM (#37771220)
    How do we tag a summary as misleading? Seems that entire premise behind why the site was blocked (providing police officer information including address and political affiliation) was dumped to promulgate 'videos of police brutality'.

    It was inevitable this would generate a flame session, so now I'm wondering what the purpose of that was - especially in consideration that a lot of users can disable advertising?

    • by N1AK (864906)
      Over the last 3-6 months there has been an increase in completely false headlines and summaries on Slashdot. I'm sure there have always been some but it's getting frustrating. I've kept visiting Slashdot because I'm interested in the subjct areas it covers, however when it keeps covering them in such a way that I can't trust anything I read to be accurate a lot of that value is gone.
  • As it seems - on the surface (this *is* slashdot :) - that this violates some of the basic human rights, and those are mainly covered by the ECHR in Europe (www.echr.coe.int). These kind of law suits in front of "lower" judges tend to be based on a limited set of facts (from what I can see in similar cases), and do not take into account the full extent of the law that protects these organizations - such as the European law. Takes a while though... And... IANAL -YMMV
  • by MacTO (1161105) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:38AM (#37771294)

    I'm sorry, but I'm a teacher who has to put up with all sorts of crap to prove my integrity. So when it comes down to people who have even more power and even more rights, I believe that they should be held more accountable.

    So fuck your unions. Mine has agreed to semi independent reviews. Yours should too. I can still be hung by my balls over baseless accussations (that you claim to investigate), so you should too. When you are willing to find innocence (or guilt) of my members, I will listen to your whinng. Until then, you're just a baseless bunch of bureaucrats.

    • Do you have many students looking up your home address and sending you letters threatening the lives of you and your family?

  • My French is very rusty and google translate doesn't work with https (and I'm too lazy to copy paste everything by hand), but from what I saw, it has photos and names, no addresses, phone numbers or shoesize. It also had screenshots of facebook with them saying they hate non white people and similar for a couple of them.
    The article is misleading, yes. But so is saying they're disclosing personal oh-so-sensitive information.
  • In where I live, you could be charged of national treason for reporting a police officer locking six girls in his own basement [google.com] for his own pleasure and occasionally taking them out for earning money by prostitution (that how he got caught - after locking them up for two years, and two girls were already found dead).

    And good luck of being caught misbehaved in public, or you would be dragged into the police station and being hit for at least two hours, even when you are a high ranking military officer your [google.com]

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