Protests have erupted across France over a proposed security law that would greatly limit the publication of images of police officers.
The controversial Article 24 in the new Global Security Bill pushed by French President Emmanuel Macron’s government and police unions would make it illegal to publish images of police officers with the intent to cause them harm. Offenders would face up to a year in jail and a fine of €45,000 (~$53,000).
The article was approved by lawmakers in the National Assembly late last month and is headed to the Senate this month.
Critics of the proposed law are worried that it would erode freedom of the press and strip people of their ability to document police brutality and misconduct through photos and videos.
French human rights ombudsman Claire Hedon told the National Assembly she saw “significant risks of undermining fundamental rights” in the article, adding that French “democracy is hit when the population does not trust its police anymore.”
Hundreds of thousands of people marched across France to protest the measure this past weekend.
Proponents of the law argue that it protects police officers from threats of violence without preventing journalists and citizens from capturing police officers in action.
“Article 24 aims to ban their exposure and their harassment on social networks, by malicious and dangerous individuals,” bill co-author Jean-Michel Fauvergue told parliament last month. “No worries: Journalists will still be able to do their job.”
In response to the public outrage over the bill, lawmakers announced yesterday that they would “totally rewrite” Article 24 in an effort to better protect both the freedom of capturing images of police as well as the police officers being captured on camera.