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French public to vote on digital rights

French prime minister Manual Valls will release the text of a proposed bill on digital rights to the public before it is debated in parliament, Agence France-Presse (AFP) said22 Jun 2015

In a gesture of 'collaborative democracy', the proposed law will be published online at the end of June with a call for comments, AFP said.

"It’s totally experimental," a source at the prime minister’s office told AFP. "Maybe it will be a marvellous success, and maybe it will be a complete flop."

Valls has said the bill aims to guarantee the neutrality of the web, AFP said.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) will deliver all content requested by customers equally, and where the speed and quality of content delivered to customers is not dictated by the price content producers are willing to pay ISPs for preferential treatment over the ISPs' network.

However, while there has not been much information released on what the bill will cover, Paris-based Annabelle Richard of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said it is likely to cover more than just net neutrality.

The online gambling bill of 2010 is due for reform and it is expected to be included in the digital rights bill, along with up to 70 other proposed changes, Richard said.

"This is a fairly innovative approach in France, making it open to everyone from the public to large companies. Usually consultations are done before a draft bill is put together. This way people can make very specific, pragmatic, operational suggestions on what should change," Richard said. "I have reservations about how it will work in practice. Who will review all of the suggestions to take everyone's views into account, and put together a coherent conclusion? I'm not sure how well it will work but I'm curious to see."

"From a professional point of view it is very useful because we will see the specific bill that is being proposed and will be able to encourage clients to lobby on specific issues that will affect them," Richard said.