France Clamps Down on “Happy Slapping,” Also Bans Citizen Journalist from Reporting Violence

Be careful of what you film in France, the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists is now a criminal act according to French law.

This of course gets the gander of civil liberty groups who decry the law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images.

The French Constitutional Council has approved the law to clamp down on a wide range of public order offenses. It purportedly targets the practice of “happy slapping,” in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends.

The law’s broad language however also criminalizes the activities of citizen journalists unrelated to the perpetrators of violent acts.

In a related move, the French government is also proposing a certification system for Web sites, blog hosters, mobile-phone operators and Internet service providers, identifying them as government-approved sources of information if they adhere to certain rules. Ominous.


Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.