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pointertovoid

France, Internet censored, Tor browser

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Hello dear friends!

Internet is ever more heavily censored in France. Of course it began with child pornography, drugs, explosives and so on, and has drifted as expected. The country has arrived to a point where free speech isn't possible any more.

Le Monde, a traditional big serious newspaper, has an online edition and a blog section open to reader comments
lemonde.fr and blog.lemonde.fr

In April 2013, the server began pour "crash" when I posted comments unpleasant for the French state. Which wasn't like "make revolution" but rather "The study by Prof Seralini about Monsanto's GMO is statistically not so weak". I experimented around it, and found very clearly that my real name, combined with some keywords, triggered the censorship. I could go on using some simple measures.

Since 26 July 2016, I couldn't drop any single message more, even when using an alias. My last message was approximately "I got messages suggesting an attack before it happened in Reutlingen, so the authors were a secret service, probably a French one, not Daesh".

Supposing that the server censored my IP, I installed Tor Browser
https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en#downloads
and, provided I use an alias, can again put messages, at least on the blogs that aren't moderated before any publication.

Though, my messages where I give the link to Tor Browser are suppressed - in one case, only the paragraph linking to it.
To my best knowledge, using Tor is legal in France. Spooks tried in December 2015 to let forbid it but the government didn't.

Having a long history of conflict with the French spooks, I'm not surprised that the country evolved that way, but you may be interested in reading that it happens in decently reputated countries too. And I encourage everyone to download and store while still possible these tools that enable free speech and protect our privacy. Presently (it got public at end July) Tor has problems with a sex scandal, so I feel prudent to download the present version (6.0.3) before the team is coerced into botching the software, or even, prefer a slightly older one.

Gratitude to all these people helping us protect our freedom.

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Censorship gets only worse in France. The French interior minister had written to his German counterpart (...as I live in Germany?) to find common measures about Internet security since national ones would be inefficient, and apparently the German minister didn't follow. Since then, about all comments on blog.lemonde.fr are censored away. Not only the many racist ones - which France's own version of free speech doesn't make legal -, not only my comments - which were targeted specifically for completely other reasons -, just nearly all. The number of comments has dropped by 100, as confirmed by observation and by the automatic comment counters. What remains is one or two "I like your blog" and nothing else.

Tor shouldn't be understood as the eternal answer to censorship, in France nor elsewhere. If the team behind it can't resist the pressure by the governments, Tor will become unsafe, probably even the older versions of the part installed on users' computers.

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TOR  has not been "Safe" for many years. I've always seen it as a "use at your own risk" type of system.

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Most likely the moderator of lemonde.fr and related websites were tired of moderating too much.

I don't think it is  the right place to discuss political matter. Also most likely the french government isn't involved in any way in the moderation of the comments of lemonde.fr as it is owned by a private group.

I suppose they had to reduce the number of moderators to reduce the costs as usual and perhaps they banned IP from foreign countries.

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On 8/10/2016 at 2:28 AM, pointertovoid said:

Hello dear friends!

Internet is ever more heavily censored in France. Of course it began with child pornography, drugs, explosives and so on, and has drifted as expected. The country has arrived to a point where free speech isn't possible any more.

Le Monde, a traditional big serious newspaper, has an online edition and a blog section open to reader comments
lemonde.fr and blog.lemonde.fr

In April 2013, the server began pour "crash" when I posted comments unpleasant for the French state. Which wasn't like "make revolution" but rather "The study by Prof Seralini about Monsanto's GMO is statistically not so weak". I experimented around it, and found very clearly that my real name, combined with some keywords, triggered the censorship. I could go on using some simple measures.

Since 26 July 2016, I couldn't drop any single message more, even when using an alias. My last message was approximately "I got messages suggesting an attack before it happened in Reutlingen, so the authors were a secret service, probably a French one, not Daesh".

Supposing that the server censored my IP, I installed Tor Browser
https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en#downloads
and, provided I use an alias, can again put messages, at least on the blogs that aren't moderated before any publication.

Though, my messages where I give the link to Tor Browser are suppressed - in one case, only the paragraph linking to it.
To my best knowledge, using Tor is legal in France. Spooks tried in December 2015 to let forbid it but the government didn't.

Having a long history of conflict with the French spooks, I'm not surprised that the country evolved that way, but you may be interested in reading that it happens in decently reputated countries too. And I encourage everyone to download and store while still possible these tools that enable free speech and protect our privacy. Presently (it got public at end July) Tor has problems with a sex scandal, so I feel prudent to download the present version (6.0.3) before the team is coerced into botching the software, or even, prefer a slightly older one.

Gratitude to all these people helping us protect our freedom.

How's everything doing in France? I've heard people were not happy with the new labor reforms, refugee violence is still happening, and is rioting is happening. Is rioting common there?

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On 18/8/2016 at 7:10 PM, allen2 said:

Most likely the moderator of lemonde.fr and related websites were tired of moderating too much.

I don't think it is  the right place to discuss political matter. Also most likely the french government isn't involved in any way in the moderation of the comments of lemonde.fr as it is owned by a private group.

I suppose they had to reduce the number of moderators to reduce the costs as usual and perhaps they banned IP from foreign countries.

I had my own name triggering an automatic (and pirate) ban before. This is NOT a matter of moderators.

Call it a "governmental agency" if you wish to distinguish from the government. Answering "error 503" automatically is not what the online newspaper would do to ban a user. This was done by some malware, because at that time, the same message would apss through if I used a different name.

Other readers from Germany could still post comments, just as I can with Tor which has IP addresses outside France.

Sorry, this case is so blatant, I experimented as a scientist does and observed it so clearly, that it is just plain censorship and nothing else.

Discuss Tor without politics? Without politics, we wouldn't need Tor.

----------

More recently, I checked that reader comments were also nearly banned at other French online newspapers where I don't usually put comments, whose web servers are distinct from Lemonde, and where the amount of comments had dropped to about zero. At that time, the Belgian online newspaper had still their reader comments working normally - or more exactly, full of the usual racist messages that would be a legal basis for moderation in France.

In the recent days, the situation in France has improved somewhat, especially as I could make the censorship public.

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On 18/8/2016 at 9:56 PM, ~♥Aiko♥Chan♥~ said:

How's everything doing in France? I've heard people were not happy with the new labor reforms, refugee violence is still happening, and is rioting is happening. Is rioting common there?

The labor reform that triggered violent protests (could already be called "riot") was voted. Riots aren't so common.

There are very few new refugees in France and they aren't violent, but the relations between the religions has degraded brutally after several attacks - it's not so visible in daily life, but quite on forums and newspaper blogs, where the 10 to 30% of openly racist people make 90% of all comments. This is definitely a worry for the moderation since the French law has a bizarre formulation to forbid racist speech but tries to keep the freedom of speech, and this formulation needs non-obvious interpretation.

Presently, newspapers use to (under-) pay cheap French-speaking labour forces abroad (typically in Africa) to do some moderation. Though, racist comments are still there, while telling "I got signs announcing this and that hence it was an attack rather than an accident" lets my message disappear and ban my IP.

Anyway, I still have to hide my IP and my name to pass through, and up to now Tor does it properly.

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"Cryptography is one thing you can rely on", said Edward Snowden. That's why governmental agencies, as they can't decipher the contents, prefer to tap the information elsewhere: at the targeted computer where the message is typed or read, or at the service provider who should introduce backdoors in the encryption - despite this weakens the own country's security against foreign attacks too.

Presently, the French police minister tries to move his European fellows to let some Internet services providers, like the encrypted message exchange provider Telegram, to spy on their users and provide the data to the police.
http://www.lemonde.fr/police-justice/article/2016/08/24/les-messageries-cryptees-dans-la-ligne-de-mire-des-responsables-politiques_4987058_1653578.html
The excuse is that the murderers who slaughtered a priest in France last July had used Telegram.

But this logic has flaws:

  • A foreign intelligence service warned the French in advance of the priest's murder, so it's possible to get information despite Telegram, somehow. By being smarter than the French spooks maybe?
  • The French had been warned and had even received names "but didn't have face pictures". The murderers had disappeared for weeks. They lived several days long under a tent in the centre of the target town. They kept unnoticed, kudos to the French.
  • The terrorist of the Paris attacks in November synchronized themselves with an unciphered SMS. One mastermind could even pass the reinstalled border control after detailed verification. No relationship with cryptography.
  • Most terrorist attacks are done by intelligence services, including the friends and allies, not to mention the FSB that can become a big threat if the Ukrainian or Syrian conflicts worsen, rather than by ISIL. They only avoid to go public about the attacks. These worse attacks are made easier by weaker privacy and secrecy in the own country or Union. But be sure that foreign secret services have better means than Telegram, and a legal move won't change that.
  • How much is a people's freedom and privacy worth? The French's ancestors gave more than 300 lives for it. That's as many Frenches as tobacco kills every day. And shall the people ask for protection by the government, or protect themselves against the government?
  • The French services spy on me and censor me, not the terrorists.

The kind of weakness governmental agencies introduce is nothing benign nor unnoticed. Remember when the "bugged" Apache https servers chose their random key among only 65,536 instead of billions of billions (and the NSA bragged in an internal paper about having put a backdoor at the https): the very first thing cryptanalysts all over the world check is whether there are regular patterns among the keys, and here observing just 300 keys would have revealed that they just reappear - impossible to miss. Be certain that the FSB knew and exploited the backdoor, the only reason why they didn't tell the flaw. They could have broken down all banking activity and all bank accounts in a target country if they had wanted so.

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Meanwhile France's censorship is about complete.

Tor Browser doesn't help any more, or very scarcely - I still get an "error 503" from the remote host from time to time, which is the antique excuse for automatic censorship at a late stage, but on most attempts the automatic censorship acts in an earlier stage. Maybe the French spooks, possibly aided by their European accomplices, have spotted out all Tor nodes. Or they have found a generic means to distinguish a request sent by a Tor server.

In addition, humans suppress messages inconvenient for the French state. Screening had been made mandatory under the excuse of child pronography, terrorism and so on, but of course any message putting in doubt the goals and efficiency of the secret services is suppressed now. Or against nuclear energy. Or or or...

That's not all. In France, and apparently increasingly so in Belgium too, hate messages like "these terrorists were Muslims" are wiped out now. Which corresponds to the French law, may help avoid a dictatorship (or not), but goes obviously against the freedom of speech. The family names of terrorists aren't made public any more and the first names are apparently modified, possibly in an attempt to avoid Muslim hatred, but goes obviously against the freedom of information.

The unavoidable consequence is that opinions perfectly legal and plain informative, like "terrorist attacks are a retailation for France's war against Daech", are suppressed too, just because the possibility exists. I claim that this is worse than reading tons of sh*t messages about Muslims.

Add new laws to that, which have let condemn on man for alleging that terrorists willing to die were courageous, and may let condemn an other because he said that we must combat but respect people willing to die for their ideas, and you get a dire picture of France's freedom of speech. But the state propagandists in favour of the secret services, of nuclear energy, of war in Syria, of oil rather than wind, have full access to the media.

Time for a successor to Tor maybe ?

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And, suddenly, all kind of s**tstorms in popular polish web journals comments ain't so bad now. Of course, they are moderated, but it's ages beyond what's stated above.

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Sh*tstorm also existed in French newspapers of best reputation and got severely reduced , which at first thought I wouldn't complain about... BUT the problem is always who defines what should be censored.

To pass through in France presently, a reader's message must be favourable to the glorious action of the valient policemen, of the secret services whose aim is to defend the population, of the armed forces sent to Syria to fight against Daech (and who cares about the reversed chronology), favourable to nuclear energy, and allege that renewables can't replace oil.

That's very far from the laws against racial hatred, and very far too from an attempt to avoid racial or religious tensions in the country.

The kind of selection corresponds well with the traditional propaganda by the French secret services. Whether they operate censorship by themselves or define it for private companies working in countries of cheaper labour changes little.

Some phrases suggest that the journalists know the contents of some cut reader messages, so censorship would operate at the newspaper, not prior. That would be consistent with my older observations, where my name let censor my messages containing certain keywords at one newspaper only, and later all my messages, followed by my IP address blocking me when I used pseudonyms, and now Tor Browser blocked.

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