Net giants challenge French law

Google and Facebook are among a
group of net heavyweights taking the French government to court this week.

The legal challenge has been
brought by The French Association of Internet Community Services (ASIC) and
relates to government plans to keep web users’ personal data for a year.

The case will be heard by the State
Council, France’s highest judicial body.

More than 20 firms are involved,
including eBay and Dailymotion.

The law obliges a range of
e-commerce sites, video and music services and webmail providers to keep a host
of data on customers.

This includes users’ full names,
postal addresses, telephone numbers and passwords. The data must be handed over
to the authorities if demanded.

Police, the fraud office, customs,
tax and social security bodies will all have the right of access.

ASIC head Benoit Tabaka believes
that the data law is unnecessarily draconian. “Several elements are
problematic,” he said.

“For instance, there was no
consultation with the European Commission. Our companies are based in several
European countries.

“Our activities target many
national markets, so it is clear that we need a common approach,” said Mr

ASIC also thinks that passwords
should not be collected and warned that retaining them could have security

“This is a shocking
measure,” added Mr Tabaka.

The main aim of the legal challenge
is to see the law cancelled.