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France opens online consultation on draft 'digital republic' law

media French junior minister for digital affairs Axelle Lemaire presents the plans for the internet bill on Saturday AFP

The French government is to stage an "unprecedented" online consultation on a new law on the internet, Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced this weekend. The public is invited to suggest amendments to 30 proposed measures, ranging from net neutrality to makiing official documents available to all.

"We are opening a new page in the history of our democracy because this is the first time in our country and in Europe that a draft law has been opened up to contributions by citizens," Valls told a press conference Saturday.

It will not be the last, he added, saying that it was in part a response to "citizens' growing distrust of politics".

The public is invited to visit the Digital Republic bill website, which also has an English version, comment on proposals and suggest changes until 17 October.

A summary will be published on 26 October ahead of a cabinet meeting, which has been put off several times but is now planned to take place in November, and a debate in parliament at the beginning of 2016.

The draft bill proposes:

  • An open-data policy for the French state that would make official documents and public-sector research accessible to all online;
  • Net neutrality, which would ban providers such as YouTube or Netflix, from buying faster connections for their customers;
  • The right to recover emails, files and data stored with online mail services or data hosting websites;
  • The right to "digital death" by which users determine how their personal data is used after they die;
  • Disabled access to government and large businesses' websites;
  • Guaranteed internet connection for families in financial hardship.
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