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France may block public WiFi, ban Tor access

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Image: Nitot (Wikimedia Commons)

France could be about to block public Wi-Fi and ban Tor software according to leaked documents from the Ministry of Interior.

The proposed legislation could be introduced to the French parliament as early as January 2016, according to a report by French newspaper Le Monde.

Two proposals, one blocking public Wi-Fi during a state of emergency, and one banning Tor software outright, will be introduced.

Tor is free software that allows anonymous communication by redirecting internet traffic through a network of relays, so as to hide the source user.

The justification for banning public Wi-Fi reportedly comes from police forces that say it's tough to track those who use public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Implementing such a ban would be relatively easy compared with successfully blocking access to the Tor network – an acronym for the project’s initial name "The Onion Router".

China is the only country to have successfully stopped its citizens from accessing the network with its "great firewall".

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The new legislation comes in the wake of the Paris attacks last month which left 130 dead.

It's unclear whether France will seek to prevent access to the Tor network or simply make it illegal to try to use it.

The former method would be incredibly difficult to implement, while the latter would likely have little effect on terrorists.

France is still in a state of emergency following the introduction of new legislation to extend the current status to three months.

Concerns will no doubt be raised surrounding how the new legislation will affect those who rely on the Tor network, such as journalists and whistle-blowers.

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