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Blocking porn sites in France: what’s next when nothing has changed?


This December 28 marks the expiration of the deadline left by the CSA to the X sites to get into the nails of the law. None of the sites in question has deployed a more effective method to control the age of Internet users. A status quo which paves the way for legal action to obtain their blocking by ISPs.

This is an important step in the process that could lead to the blocking of the main pornographic sites by Internet service providers.

This Tuesday, December 28, 2021 marks the expiration of the 15-day period that the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA) left to the companies behind Pornhub, Xnxx, Xvideos, Tukif and Xhamster to send their observations and, above all, to comply with the law. Otherwise, legal proceedings will take place, resulting in a ban in France.

No news from X sites on age control

The fact is that, according to our findings, none of the five implicated sites has changed the way it controls the age of Internet users visiting them.

During the first visit, they all display an overlay (the rest of the site being blurred or hidden) asking to confirm that the Internet user is of legal age, by clicking on a button “I am 18 years old or over”, or equivalent, with warning text most of the time. With one click, anyone can then access the X content offered.

Since 2020, the law requires porn sites that they no longer content themselves with a simple declaration of the Internet user indicating that they are at least eighteen years old, because this click of a button proves nothing. This requirement is recorded in article 227-24 of the Penal Code. The concern is that the law does not say how to do this check: it’s up to the X sites to find.

The whole heart of the debate concerns the verification of the age of Internet users accessing X sites: what should be done? // Source: Numerama

The absence of another method of controlling the age of Internet users by visiting the home page of the five X sites on December 28 shows that nothing has been done, obviously, following the injunction of the CSA. Or at least, that nothing has been deployed yet. The sites themselves remain perfectly accessible from France, without any particular blocking.

If the sites are still reachable as of December 28, this could change soon. Indeed, this day marked above all the expiration of the 15 days of delay left by the CSA before moving on to the next step, namely the referral to the judicial court of Paris in order to obtain from the large operators ( Orange, SFR, Free, Bouygues Telecom) blocking access.

We have contacted the CSA to find out whether exchanges with some or all of the X sites in question are in progress. We also asked him to know if this next step was going to be initiated. In any case, there should be no blocking from December 28, except to imagine an emergency procedure to obtain the block without delay.

In the meantime, there is one site that has decided to come forward, but for a whole other reason: like report it Benjamin Hue, journalist at RTL, Tukif seized the CSA – even as the institution is targeting Tukif – to denounce the fact that only five sites have been targeted by the measure, while there are hundreds of others sites that are not worried today.

If there is indeed a transition from formal notice to legal action, and a filtering decision falls, it should be the DNS blocking method that should be used (which can also target mirror sites , to limit cases of circumvention). This has the advantage of being quite easy to set up, but it can be neutralized without too much difficulty.

If a DNS blocking is established, Internet users wanting to visit the five X sites involved will in fact be redirected to an explanatory page of the CSA. This page should indicate the reasons for blocking Pornhub, Xnxx, Xvideos, Tukif and Xhamster. This turn of the screw is wanted by the government, which is alarmed to see too many minors consuming pornography, in particular violent one.

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