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It is not the first time France has done things like this. In the 90s, France outlawed encryption completely, with prison sentence for breaking the ban. As tools like ssh became common, this became less and less practical. For example the supercomputer center at my university had to develop a one time password scheme for the French users (printed out and sent to them by mail), since ssh was strictly forbidden there.

I'd like to learn more, source/reference?

For the crypto ban, I was unable to find reputable references. I found only one from the Register, which I consider less than reputable (and the article in question is quite inaccurate, for example they managed to call Minister of Finance at the time, Dominique Strauss-Kahn Domenica, and refer to him as "she"). The factual content seems to be right otherwise, and 1999 is about the right timeframe.


As you can see, you could be sentenced to 6 months of jail and fined nearly $90000 for using encryption.

The one-time password telnet demon was developed at a university in Scandinavia before the ban ended in the second part of the 90s. This was a solution they weren't proud of, so naturally there wasn't written anything down about it, but it was considered better than pure telnet and it kept French users out of trouble (I hesitate to say the right side of the law, given its stupidity).

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