Today, the country passed the dreaded "HADOPI" bill, which many American news outlets are calling a "three strikes" law. Here's how it works: if you're accused of copyright infringement by a rights holder, you receive an email with your IP address in it. If you are still suspected of infringement, you receive a certified letter telling you you're in big trouble. If you make the mistake of being suspected of infringement a third time, you'll lose your Internet connection for up to a year.
And there's no right to judicial appeal.
Clearly, there are a thousand problems with this: IP addresses can be spoofed or piggybacked, allegations don't prove guilt, many online uses of copyrighted content fall into exempt categories such as fair use, new business models are built on the innovative (re)use of copyrighted material, political dissent is built on the innovative (re)use of copyrighted material, ... oh, and whatever happened to privacy?
Kicking someone off the Internet is not the same as telling the kids "no TV for a week." We are shifting an ever greater number of essential social functions online, from access to government bureacracy to vital business and personal communications to consumer research to banking to emergency and disaster warnings. The net disenfranchisement (so to speak) amounts to something more like losing your voting rights or your passport.
Fortunately, we don't have any laws like this currently on the docket in the U.S; unfortunately, the "market" is preempting the need for such anger-provoking action on the part of our elected representatives. Already, two of the four major ISPs have agreed to "voluntarily" adopt a 3-strikes rule against their own customers. They brokered the deal with the RIAA back in December 2008 -- a bitter pill dipped in the carob candy shell of a pledge by the RIAA to stop suing file sharers. Too bad they have already broken that part of the bargain.
At least Jacques Attali, France's greatest philosopher of music, technology and culture, has come out against HADOPI: