By Michael Moore
The French government is set to consider a series of recommendations for monitoring online activity in the country following the terrorist attacks in Paris last month that could see the use of Tor banned and free WiFi networks restricted during a state of emergency.
The proposals, one concerning counter-terrorism and the other national state of emergency protections, will now be considered before the laws are drafted, which according to French newspaper Le Monde, could be as early as January.
Tor provides online anonymity by obscuring the real point of origin of Internet communications by rerouting traffic across several different points.
It was in part created by the U.S. government as part of a project for the U.S. Navy, which still helps fund its ongoing development, due to the fact that some of its operations rely on the network, and also is popular with journalists and whistleblowers, most famously Edward Snowden.
However, the network also has been widely used for criminal purposes, such as operating contraband Websites in the past, and it is increasingly being used by attackers to hide their identities as they scan for vulnerabilities or carry out attacks.
There is no concrete information on how the French government would actually block the Tor network, as it may need to involve Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to help detect whenever a customer is visiting a site using it.
However Le Monde suggests that the French authorities would like to introduce legislative measures blocking Tor, as well as technological barriers that would prevent people inside the country accessing it, much like the current situation in China.
As for restrictions on free WiFi, Le Monde reported that French police wish to “Forbid free and shared WiFi connections” during a state of emergency. This follows the opinions of police forces that using public WiFi networks makes people harder to track in cases of emergency.