The French National Assembly has passed one of the toughest laws against internet piracy that the world has ever seen.
Under the new legislation, backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy (pictured), illegal downloaders of games, music and movies will be sent two warnings – first by email and then by recorded delivery.
Following these cautions, the offender’s details will be passed to a judge – who now has the power to cut off Internet access and issue heavy fines or even prison sentences.
The law was narrowly passed by 285 votes to 225. The ruling majority UMP voted in favour but the Socialist Party has already announced that they will appeal to the Constitutional Court once again.
The document will only be adopted definitely if a commission – made up of seven senators and seven deputies – can agree a joint version in the next few days.
According to the Mail, it is the third time this year President Sarkozy has tried to get the so-called Hadopi law passed in France – named after the government agency that will monitor web piracy.
On the first occasion it was rejected by MPs at the French parliament. The second time it was passed, but contained a clause giving the Hadopi agency the sole power to cut off an offender’s Internet.
While it is backed by the film and record industries, consumer groups have warned that innocent people may get punished.
The European Parliament is currently considering whether cutting off internet access is a breach of human rights.