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France bans the publication of statistical information about judges’ decisions (artificiallawyer.com)
116 points by megamega on June 4, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 123 comments

>After all, how can a society dictate how its citizens are allowed to use data and interpret it – if that data is already placed in public view, by a public body, such as a court?

I’m totally flabbergasted at how public domain is now not only censored, but sharing of it is punishable by prison time...

>This seems to be like giving someone access to a public library, but banning them from reading certain books that are sitting right there on the shelf for all to see. This is a sort of coercive censorship, but of the most bizarre kind – as it’s the censorship of justice’s own output.

The phrasing of the law is more close to being allowed to read important books about historical events, but you are forbidden to summarize or think about the conclusions of said events and share your findings. I can’t seem to think of another way to rationalize those who approved this into law other than the judges simply didn’t like the public knowing ‘how they think’. What a truly bizarre verdict.

The article is misleading, it’s not what the law says. The law specifically forbids the use of personally identifiable data (ie judges and clerks name) to conduct statistical analysis predictions. This seems to be in line with the privacy laws that require prior consent to allow this kind of private data processing (by private I specifically mean related to identifiable individuals)

When judges are giving orders they are not acting as private individuals, but as officials of the state. They have no right to not be associated with the decisions they are making.

Think about politicians: "You have no right to use my personally identifiable data to accuse me of bribery!"

If you are acting officially on behalf of the state I have the moral right, whether the law says so or not, to scrutinize your decisions.

The government doesn't have the right to privacy. If you work for the government, people should have the right to know your name and what choices you made in an official capacity. France is practicing the opposite of transparency.

> The government doesn't have the right to privacy.

France clearly disagrees.

I think that's misguided on France's part, but it's not "censorship" per se.

So they can publish in a deidentified fashion?

Restrictions to use of public information is routine in the U.S. as well, e.g. there are public record archives where the public is allowed to review content but not allowed to use photographs, scanners, or even writing utensils with paper to take away information. You can only leave with what you stuff into your head.

This French law still leaves court papers conveniently accessible, it seems, to anyone with a browser. Anyone, working alone or in a team, can still analyze particular judges' tendencies, just not with automated help. So your conclusion "you are forbidden to summarize or think about the conclusions of said events and share your findings" doesn't quite hold. Since the volume of these papers is so huge, the law forces you to be motivated to focus on and analyze a particular judge or type of case or court system ... the cost isn't justifiable otherwise. It's kind of a de facto "warrant" system ... if you really want to search for weird judicial behavior you need to pay the price. In that light the French law isn't any more unreasonable than the U.S. public records review example.

This is preposterous. Judges are acting predictably in making critical decisions about people's lives. Instead of trying to fix the bias/predictability problem, France moves to censor data revealing said predictability.

Edit: grammar.

There is a long tradition of shielding judges from any sort of accountability in France. It is illegal for instance to criticize a court decision.

Even the most appalling wrongdoings have no consequences on judges. Like the judge instructing the Outreau case (an alleged poedophile ring that resulted in dozens of people sent to jail and/or loosing custody of their children, before the whole case collapsed when it became clear the only evidence was the false testimony of a single person). The judge responsible faced a parliamentary hearing, where he appeared unfit for the job, incapable of even speaking in public. As far as I am aware it didn't even dent his career. Or the Nice court affair, where the president of the court was caught tipping off a gangster from his freemason lodge. The judge was quietly sent to retirement and never saw the bars of a jail.

Judges in France are highly politicized, as the "mur des cons" scandal illustrated. There is a long tradition of judges prosecuting a political party before resigning to take a senior position in a competing party (Thierry Jean-Pierre, Eva Joly, Eric Halphen, etc).

It is therefore unsurprising to see some law trying to prevent surfacing any evidence of partiality and/or wrong doing.

"It is illegal for instance to criticize a court decision."

this can't be for real.

when did France become so conservative?

Clovis baptism?

You have to understand that France has some other traits that are way more progressive than in the US: crossing the street is not a crime, you won't be arrested for drinking in the street, women work more than in the US, and they get married less, birth control and abortions are covered by insurance.

The balance is different than in the US, but people have a longer life expectancy with a way lower GDP/capita, so something is seriously right.

What does any of this have to do with censorship? Are you saying France is forgiven because they have other progressive policies? Seems like a very strange stance to take.

that was an answer to "when did France become so conservative?"

It's not true. They're talking about a law from 1958 (under a conservative president, like almost all of them until 1981) that makes it illegal to criticise a court decision in order to undermine the legitimacy of justice.

It's okay to criticise a court decision if you just don't agree with it, but not to say "see this judgments? it shows all judges are corrupted".

So who decides if criticism undermines the legitimacy of justice? The same judges that are being criticized?

This can’t be for real and isn’t.

It is illegal to try to criticise a court decision in a way that is designed to impede the justice system and/or to interfere with the independence of the judiciary.

I am not a lawyer but as far as I am aware it is illegal to say publicly for instance that a court decision was politically motivated. You might argue that it would undermine the justice system but this is 100% in lack of accountability territory.

You can say publicly that a court decision was politically motivated. What matters is how it is said and somewhat by whom (a member of the government might be held to higher standards).

>What matters is how it is said and somewhat by whom

That means you can't say it. You might be able to say it, depending on who you upset.

> It is illegal for instance to criticize a court decision.

Contempt of Court is the law in lots of countries, not just France.

Is there a good article on this that isn't from a source that seems pretty unashamedly biased in favor of the AI companies?

The article directly links to the legal text: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/eli/loi/2019/3/23/2019-222/jo...

> « Les données d'identité des magistrats et des membres du greffe ne peuvent faire l'objet d'une réutilisation ayant pour objet ou pour effet d'évaluer, d'analyser, de comparer ou de prédire leurs pratiques professionnelles réelles ou supposées. La violation de cette interdiction est punie des peines prévues aux articles 226-18,226-24 et 226-31 du code pénal, sans préjudice des mesures et sanctions prévues par la loi n° 78-17 du 6 janvier 1978 relative à l'informatique, aux fichiers et aux libertés. » ;

Which translates roughly to:

> The identity data of magistrates and members of the greffe can not be re-used for the purpose or effect of evaluating, analyzing, comparing or predicting their actual or alleged professional practices. Violation of this prohibition is punished by the penalties provided for in Articles 226-18,226-24 and 226-31 of the Penal Code, without prejudice to the measures and sanctions provided for by Law No. 78-17 of 6 January 1978 relating to data processing, files and freedoms

Ok, so French citizens/entities are bard from analyzing legal decisions. But, like, uh, how does this stop a non-French entity from doing the very same thing? ... and then making it available to the world!

You know, cause a non-French entity is outside of France's jurisdiction.

Surely an enterprising person will do this.

There’s a law in France regardiung the release of exit polls on the day of an election - basically, you are restricted from releasing these polls before the polls close so as not to impact people who vote later in the day. The law applies to French media in France, but it doesn’t apply to non-French media entities. Hence, if you are looking for exit polling date on the day of the election, you hit up a French-language source in Switzerland or Belgium that carries the polling instead of the local French news site.

I suspect this legal analysis could be a more lucrative and sustainable use case for a non-French-but-still-French-language startup to make their way.

You will have a hard time monetizing without entering the french jurisdiction.

This is the second time I am reading some absolutely ridiculous new law from France. The other time was when I learnt paternity tests and DNA testing is illegal in France too.






That's interesting, but you should specify that "private DNA paternity testing is illegal". Testing can still be mandated by a judge.

With the track record of French politicians, it is no surprise that politicians would dislike paternity DNA testing!!!

From wikipedia regarding François Mitterrand [0]: He also had two children as results of extra-marital affairs: an acknowledged daughter, Mazarine (born 1974), with his mistress Anne Pingeot, and an unacknowledged son, Hravn Forsne (born 1988), with Swedish journalist Christina Forsne.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Mitterrand

And to be fair there are many places including like half of US states where a paternal test if not court ordered requires the consent of both parents listed on the birth certificate.

And to get a court mandate in such cases where you think the child might not be yours you must basically "prove" the mother had to opportunity to cheat on you and that it could have resulted in the conception, and even then it may not exempt you from paying child support if you are listed as the father on the birth certificate you may only be able to claim them back from the biological father if you ever find him.

It's not just paternity tests in France though. Even simple ancestry tests are illegal there.

> Private DNA paternity testing is illegal, including through laboratories in other countries, and is punishable by up to a year in prison and a €15,000 fine.

Felony paternity testing...I have no words.

I'm surprised the U.S. doesn't have something similar. Then again, don't they (or some states, at least) just go ahead and find some male to pin the childcare payments on, regardless of paternity?

(Not sure if this is the case I was thinking of, but it popped up with a minute's searching: https://nationalpost.com/news/world/texas-man-ordered-to-pay... )

This is quite common, I know someone who got pinned with childcare just because he was at the hospital when his friend was giving birth and she put him as the Dad (he wasn't).

Your link is literally someone getting a paternity test, ending his child support obligations.

What's unusual (and newsworthy) in that specific case is that the child was a teenager by the time the paternity test happened, and Texas law doesn't remove any child support obligations imposed prior to the test. I believe that man was still contesting the outcome.

If anything, this is a great example of how important paternity tests can be. And why the U.S. should not outlaw paternity tests.

Yeah, definitely not the case I was thinking of. Here are two where DNA tests were insufficient to exonerate men from ongoing child support payments after the test results:



I wonder if that law would stand up to an appeal at the EU Courts...

I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that this law inhibits laboratories outside of France in doing business in France.

And DNA testing seems too easy to me to be prohibited. We shed DNA all the time and it is becoming easier and easier to run PCRs or even sequence genomes.

Of course, the legal issue is with the invasion of privacy, and potential harm to the children's psyche, so there is actually some justification.

>potential harm to the children's psyche

What about the potential harm to the psyche of a husband who doesn't know if he is the father of some children?

That husband should grow up.

x220 on June 4, 2019 [flagged]

So the suffering of men doesn't matter and men should just silently deal with it? That sounds like toxic masculinity.

Whining and complaining about your responsibilities after courts ruled against you isn't really mature either. Distributing the burden of child raising on both parents, and not just the mother, is an important part in actual gender equality.

Children are generally granted more protections. Not sure how to complain about that without sounding weak and immature.

> invasion of privacy, and potential harm to the children's psyche

On the other hand, if you're going to extract payment, you should probably have to provide evidence that payment is due.

Excuse me but... what's your point? New ridiculous laws are being voted everywhere. From France's point of view it looks like the US keeps coming up with those (e.g. healthcare, net neutrality, Alabama abortion ban). Maybe you're from a sensible country, I surely hope there are some, but of course you're going to hear mostly about the bad laws because that's what people are most interested in discussing (for example, gender equality being enshrined in the first article of our constitution wasn't discussed a lot). I can't deny that there's been some regrettable decision-making in my country. I'm just a bit frustrated that the top comment seems to imply that a country is on a dangerous path because things sometimes come up about it on HN.

Edit: I should have read the article instead of guessing it's content

Also, AI programs in such matters get way too much credit. They is a lot to be done before we should consider using them like that.



Another problem is that most of these tools are developed by private companies. Relying on them for judicial decisions pretty much the same as privatizing justice. Especially when said tools are such black boxes


Quoted from the first article you linked:

Why is it banned?

French doctors have pointed out that as the popularity of these tests has increased, they have seen more patients who are worried about the results.

"We regularly have consultations with people because they had no idea what they were getting in to," Professor Stanislas Lyonnet, director of an institute on genetic diseases told the French press.

"They did a test they thought would be fun but they are often actually receiving crucial and sometimes scientifically sound information."

Lyonnet went on to say that people might find out they are "a carrier of cystic fibrosis, they have a risk of having Huntington's disease, they have a risk of breast cancer or ovarian cancer ... This comes without further information or medical guidance so finding it out from under a Christmas tree is really ridiculous!"

Some have also suggested the reason for the ongoing ban is to "preserve the peace" in French families, with many incidents of people taking the test and discovering information such as that one of their parents isn't actually theirs.

So, please, what's so ridiculous about it?

> So, please, what's so ridiculous about it?

Just about everything.

"No no no this reality is so frightful, please hide it from everyone"



That is not what communism is.

But what's the point of paternity testing if it's not within the frame of a legal procedure? And if there's a legal procedure, then it's legal.

As a parent, if you caught your SO cheating on you, you would probably also want to check if the kid is yours or not before divorce. Last thing you would want to have to do is paying child support for a kid which came from your SO cheating and not yours.

From the French law, if you are ready to raise a kid in your marriage, it shouldn't matter if it's your genetically or not.

Sure people have a myriad of views on how family works, but that's the frame of law.

The question here if you're also willing to raise it outside (or after) marriage if it came from cheating that you weren't aware of until the end of your marriage.

It really comes down to personal views, and as anything it can be very complicated very fast. That's in my opinion the very reason divorce go through trial, as everyone has a different opinion on what the question is.

For instance if you raised a kid for 15 years, divorce for unrelated reasons (ex: repetitive adultery), but take the opportunity to have paternity checked, are you less of a parent of this kid than his biological father ? I'd suppose there's a variety of answers depending on each one's walk of life.

I believe that I wouldn't change your legal relationship and, therefore, duties.

I'm not a big fan either, but that's how it is for now...

My point wasn't about the legal situation, but what seems right.

*it wouldn't

Too late to edit, damn it

> you would probably also want to check if the kid is yours or not before divorce

Why? If you have doubts, then the DNA test will be ordered in the divorce proceedings.

It raises the costs of paternity testing. Instead of privately, cheaply performing a test, you have to do it publicly and expensively. This de facto stops many men from performing tests, which is significant and not something you can just dismiss. Legal restrictions on consensual activity is not normal and needs a good justification for it. It's the norm to be free to do as you please as long as all parties involved consent.

Maybe you want to figure out if the child is genetically yours before you initiate divorce.

The legal costs of a divorce are not very high in France (I should know) justice is quite different from the US. And a legal paternity test is 150€, which is cheaper than what most private labs offer.

> consensual activity

> all parties involved consent

Well that's the crux of it, indeed. Most private testing is not done in a consensual way because that would require the assent of the child, which is likely minor, meaning it requires the assent of both its legal parents. If you have the assent of both the father and mother, it's easy (and free) to ask a court to allow the testing.

I'm not sure if you need the consent of both guardians normally.

It is required, but the consent of the other parent is assumed in normal circumstances. In a lack of trust situation like this one, the consent of the other parent cannot be assumed.

It's also a chicken egg problem though. Like maybe if you are suspicious and do the DNA test to find out that the kid is in fact yours, maybe you won't get divorced. I just think that the government should get out of people's private married lives.

I think it's a less obvious test when it's through the mail, as opposed to through a court, which could prevent a lot of undue stress on a child who isn't to blame for their parent's divorce.

That's not how French law works. The parental link is social, not genetic in the legal system;

I think this is a very fascinating legal idea. I wish more people seriously discussed it.

Like most "very fascinating" ideas it's also clearly false.

Paternity is clearly and demonstrably a biological concept. You can easily see this when pondering the idea of having sex with your parent, and the possibility of amplifying congenital birth defects. Note that if a child is misled about his or her biological father, the probability of incest increases.

Be that as it may, paternity is one of the most important and impactful relationship humans have, many social rules, taboos and rituals have evolved around it, marriage being one.

Maybe you should have a look at roman successions, even if they were generally adopting relativelly close relatives.

Paternity is a social construct.

There are cultures where paternity simply is not important. In a matriachal society, a person's mother's brother is apt to be more important than a biological father, sometime to the point of not knowing who the father is (because it is unimportant).


Paternity is an objective biological relationship as well as a social construct. Just because paternity can be a social construct does not mean that all other socially constructed alternatives are equally useful, or can even lead to a stable society. The mere fact that the traditional Western concept of paternity has been around for hundreds of years means that it hasn't led to our degeneration or destruction and at the very least is compatible with a productive society.

The fact that most notions of paternity are almost universal means that there is something fundamental driving this which can only be overridden in a handful of cultures. Perhaps there is some instinctual male drive to be more invested in their genetic offspring. Investing in their own genetic offspring increases their biological fitness and makes them more likely to pass on their traits of favoritism. Perhaps in cultures that don't have these widely held traditions around paternity aren't able to secure paternal investment and encourage long term monogamous relationships, which leads to the culture's destruction, degeneration, or stagnation.

   as well as a social construct.
I suggest to refine this statement, because as written, it posits the biological and social parts of reproduction as equals.

This is slightly misleading since the basic biological facts of reproduction have not been modifiable so far in human history. Reproduction has always needed a fertile man and a fertile women having sexual intercourse. (Note this may change in the future with technological advancement, e.g. cloning and artificial wombs.) In contrast, the social aspects of reproduction have been varying a great deal on the surface.

I'd rather say that the social rules, rituals, taboos, institutions, all emerge and stabilise in order to give structure to and make predictable the underlying biological facts of reproduction. Note that reproduction is humanity's the single most important task.

Giving predictable, teachable and learnable social structure to reproduction has been all the more important before humanity started worked out how reproduction works and began to be able to control it at will (genetics, contraception etc). It is not surprising that there is a great deal of surface variety of social overgrowth on top of the basal biology, since genetics is rather complicated (and not fully understood as of June 2019, e.g. epigenetics) and has a lot of randomness built in. Moreover, reproduction, being the single most important task of humanity, intersects with all manner of other social institutions. This has encouraged the ad-hoc theorising, and overfitting on anecdotes that became enshrined as social institutions.

Summary: the social aspects of reproduction have been humanity's attempts to understand, manage and control reproduction, and are a reaction to the biological complexities of reproduction.

Paternity is a biological construct.

Royal intermarriage has been practiced by ruling dynasties since times immemorial. It had often been observed that this leads to problems and infertility, and indeed this is the root cause for the incest taboos that you find in varying forms and shapes in most cultures and religions. However, it has only been with the rise of modern biology and genetics in the 20th century, that this practice was abandoned.

Speaking of Ancient Rome, it has been speculated that the decline of the Roman Empire was in parts caused by the failure of the ruling families to produce enough children. Naturally, we don't have enough information today to confirm or disprove such speculation.

I have no idea why you link to an article about the Mosuo. It has no bearing on the biological nature of paternity.

Oh, and child support ends at the end of education (ie university if they go there), not at 18.

Its a very fascinating legal concept, through I very much doubt the french law function like that.

It would be very interesting if we defined the concept of parents as being the adults with closest social link with the child. The idea of child support as being something imposed would then go away, as child support is generally only contested in the case when the adult have no social link with the child and thus no involvement beyond paying the bill.

It would also make same-sex relations identical to other relations as the law would not care about which adults have closest social link with the child. Marriage vs Cohabitation would also be a area which the law could ignore, and the concept of society taking care of children in need would become natural as there will always be two adults that is the closest social link, even if some of those are paid by the state.

It sounds to me like you think your plan would solve all problems with no additional costs or drawbacks for anyone involved.

All systems has cost so which one are you considering?

The current system has a lot of costs and drawbacks. Using the marriage as the norm has caused a lot of issue here in Sweden and the system is currently being tweaked every year to account for a changing culture. 1/3 of couples with children live as cohabitation rather than registered/marriage. Family law has to keep up. Same-sex families with children is an other area which is growing and the law has seen updated several times the last 10 years.

Rather than having laws getting tweaked and warped each year to account for a changing culture, maybe it is time to address it from a different perspective. If a child treat the adults around them as their parents, the adult treat the child as their child, and social environment around them treat the adults as the parents of the child, then why not also have the law treat them as the parents of the child? Outside of medicine does the DNA then really matter?

I suppose you might want to check if the kid is yours before you start the legal procedures since the result of the test will greatly affect what your optimal strategy would be.

Of course the question of doing DNA testing on an unsuspecting minor without their consent or the consent of both their parents is a different kettle of fish.

Why do you care that someone wants to pay for the test? Just let them

It can generate privacy issues for all of their relatives, depending on who has access to the data afterwards. :(

Wouldn't these same privacy issues come up if someone submitted their own DNA for an ancestry test? And yet, these tests are not illegal.

In France, those ancestry tests are illegal too.

I think that's just an excuse they use. It's not hard for government to do the test, get the result about whether someone is the parent or not and then completely delete the data.

But that's how it happens in France already, and I think people here are arguing for allowing private testing instead?

It's not about what I care about, my question is what is the person supposed to do once they get the results of their private test, and they show they're not the father?

Another issue to me is that they must have provided the DNA of their child to a private entity (probably without telling the mother either) and I'm not sure I like that.

>what is the person supposed to do once they get the results of their private test

The person is not "supposed to do" anything. It's the norm to let people make free, unrestricted choices as long as all parties involved consent. You generally need a good reason to restrict these activities in Western culture.

>Another issue to me is that they must have provided the DNA of their child to a private entity (probably without telling the mother either) and I'm not sure I like that.

In most countries parents are allowed to do all these things. Why change parental rights merely in the case of paternity tests?

> what is the person supposed to do once they get the results of their private test, and they show they're not the father?

Initiate a divorce?

So, if someone is not sure, you want them to force them to go to court. That makes things practically public, and more costly.

Btw. This feels kinda like defending the right to privacy. I thought republic feels strong about freedom of individual... and this seems to be an unnecessary restriction.

The French Republic is (on paper) all about optimising outcomes for the community as a whole, with individual freedoms coming second to that. I think few countries other than the US place individual freedoms above national interest.

Here are some general costs of this policy:

* it weakens trust in the institution of marriage

* many men are financially responsible for children they would not be responsible for otherwise

* many men are emotionally invested in children and relationships they might not be invested in otherwise, to the possible detriment of their (generally shaky) mental health before, during, and after divorce

* it reduces the penalties for infidelity, which may have an effect on people's behavior

Just a few things on your points, men are still financially responsible for children they have raised, even if they are not genetically related. Most people think it's the right thing, too.

Infidelity is not illegal either, by the way, there's no penalty for it because the state doesn't have a say in who sleeps with who. Of course it's a cause for divorce though.

In the end, no matter what might happen to the parents, the justice system is all about the interests of the children. It might not always be fair to the father or the mother, but if it's better for the kid then that's how it is.

If infidelity is a valid cause for divorce, the state acknowledges that there's something wrong with it.

Moreover, actively tricking somebody into taking on the social obligations of fatherhood, is a dramatic violation of most major moral obligations that humans have. It also violate the child's right to know both parents.

Aside, there is an easy way out of this conundrum: mandatory paternity test at birth.

>Most people think it's the right thing, too

You only make the appeal to popularity when the public holds the same opinion as you.

> Of course it's a cause for divorce though

If your partner can divorce you for infidelity, that is a penalty that they can selectively enforce. When the state makes it a justification for divorce, the implicit message is that infidelity is bad for marriages. Why, then, would the state want to reduce the penalties for infidelity by making the husband of a cheating wife financially liable regardless of paternity?

>the justice system is all about the interests of the children

If the state cares about the welfare of a child the state can give welfare payments to the mother.

Just because the system is unfair to some parties doesn't mean it's done in the best interest of one party. I don't buy it that the state is motivated here by the welfare of children. Marriage, and more generally being raised by two parents, is quite beneficial to children. If the state acted in accordance with this, you would expect the state to discourage (increase the costs) of divorce rather than encourage it (make it easier or reduce the costs). Here we are seeing the opposite.

...the point is to gain knowledge of something. It's nobody's goddam problem what I choose to do with that knowledge!

Thinking the way you do violates the core principle that knowledge can't "have purpose", knowledge of any kind, no matter how trivial is itself the purpose of everything or anything! Violate this and we're back on the train to the dark-ages, bie-bie enlightenment and all the good stuff the benefited humanity ever since... "Knowledge as purpose, not means" has been the core drive of humanity's progress, remove this and all the shiny tech we have can instantly be turned into simply tools of oppression and destruction for profit.

"Luke, I think I'm your father" doesn't have the same ring to it...

Both laws make sense if you consider that the motive might be to keep the state stable at the expense of individuals. Keep people from criticizing court decisions so that it doesn't cause civil unrest. Raise the costs of fathers finding out paternity so that fewer women and children are supported by the state.

> motive might be to keep the state stable at the expense of individuals

I would argue this is exactly what a government shouldn't be doing. They can continue doing so until enough people get fed up with it and cause a civil unrest. Not the same reasons but things like Brexit and the France protests are all caused because of the people getting fed up of the government.

> ... people getting fed up of the government.

In a working democracy, like France or UK, or USA, only an idiot thinks of the government as something separated from people.

If you don't like your democratic goverment, it means that you don't like the majority of your compatriots: time to emigrate or try and accept.

No they are not

Updated comment with source.



Private paternity testing is illegal. If there is contestation of paternity or a legal dispute, a judge can and will mandate a test.


I think before the pitchforks are raised, folks should try to get familiar with the concepts laid out in this charter published last December by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice. Then you can raise the pitchforks in an informed manner.


From the article it sounds like they banned any kind of statistical analysis. I can understand that you might want to put a temporary ban on AI's that directly advise judges, however this seems excessive.

This is not what the law says. In France, judgements are anonymized before being published, however the name of the judges and their teams are kept. The law says that the names of the judges cannot be used to predict or analyse decisions from a specific judge/court. Although I can understand why it would be appealing to do so (eg to prove bias...), it could easily be misused to put judges under political pressure, or encourage court shopping by less ethical entities. Also this seems in line with data privacy laws, where you must get prior consent in order to use personally identifiable data. It has nothing to do with analysis of legal decisions in general.

Isn't the L. 10-1 article also worth a note? The first paragraph seems to be worded so as to give them legalese to prevent collecting the data in bulk. IANAL but to me that reads like "you may access the data but we reserve the right to deny you bulk access" (by repetitive and systematic download, aka web scraping).

> Les tiers peuvent se faire délivrer copie des jugements, sous réserve des demandes abusives, en particulier par leur nombre ou par leur caractère répétitif ou systématique.


I'm sure there must be a better way to word the title. I seriously had no idea what it's trying to say without reading first few sentences of the article. Or was that the intention?

(the stupid capitalization doesn't help either)

Ya not a great title. I had to read the title a few times before I got it.

That capitalization nomenclature is called "Title Case"... typically used for newspaper/article titles. It comes from a time when it was more time consuming (and sometimes impossible) to add emphasis to words in some other way using the typesetter. Newspaper sections were typically ALL CAPS and article titles were Title Case. This allowed for different levels of emphasis using the same character set. It's not really necessary anymore but it lives on out of tradition.

If you read the article it actually makes perfect sense.

I was curious why a law like that would not cause more scrutinity other than that one website. After looking it up, the law is from this past March and has only been discussed by a couple of French-language sites. This is not causing more alarm because the data was previously available only in printed form, which meant that typically only a lawyer would access it, and only on a case-per-case basis. So in practice the data is being made more easily available, but in a limited form. They're basically handling this like it's a whois request.

The law specifically state that what is illegal is publishing data identifying a judge ("Les données d'identité des magistrats et des membres du greffe ne peuvent faire l'objet..."), so publishing general or anonymized stats is legal. For stats regarding a judge I guess one would have to rely on the previously available printed format. Why that is I have no idea, the only argument I've seen is some vague reference to protecting againt "judge/lawyer AI", which I can't make sense of in this context (is judge AI even a thing?). This seems to me to be some kind of over-reaction to new tech.

I've come to call these type of laws 'Peak French': unforeseen issue on the horizon? No worries, just lock everything down and pretend the problem is solved.

Watch out: it's about "personal identities"... Like name for example. But replacing the name by an id might be ok: it's still possible to build a model for every judge (as a function) but not to link it to a person!

Moreover, please keep in mind that the french system is quite different from the US/UK. In France, Judges are really tighly controlled by the law. In US/UK they're more "free". So this kind of software has more value in US/UK where the personality of the judge matter more

The site is pretty hammered. Mirror here: http://archive.is/kPqeg

Sounds like a totally backwards and nonsensical way to solve the (possibly legitimate) problems that they have:

- you can choose to release partially anonymized data (like without identities of judges etc.), and have laws preventing the use of ML to de-anonymize data statistically (examples of this can be seem with medical data, this can work fine)

- ...you CAN'T have the data available but prevent people from using it

Or did we completely misunderstood what this was about?

Dunno WTF is with this pattern of legislations cropping around the EU (like the copyright directives etc.) that seem the product of what can only be explained by (a) levels of incompetence bordering actual mental-impairment from the part of the legislators, or (b) a really dark agenda being played out behind the scenes (thing Germany cca. 1939-ish...).

This is sad because some of us really love the idea of the EU open society!

It's like there's some dark force trying to destroy it and its countries from within under the guise of "protecting" imaginary "rights".

> In short, they didn’t like how the pattern of their decisions – now relatively easy to model – were potentially open for all to see.

The article nonchalantly displays bias but it does seem like AI scared French judges about their class job security. If this is the case, more than anything, it validates AI in the judiciary.

Here an example of an analysis of past french judge rulings. https://medium.com/@supralegem/the-impartiality-of-some-judg...

wait a minute, was this decision made by a judge? Did anyone see this coming?

Judges don't get to create rules in Roman Law systems like they do in Common Law systems.

This is (rider?) legalese that got lobbed into a larger legislative reform.


Facts in a case shape decisions or should do. Parliamentary lawmakers can never anticipate the application of their laws to cover all possible disputes. Common law is evolutionary and recognizes our inability to be omniscient & lay down rules worthy of eternal justification. Moreover the logic in a case is preserved and provides a basis for deciding similar situations via precedent.

ah yes, I forgot. It's not that funny anymore.

Holding the users/abusers of AI to account is more important and effective than regulating the AI technology itself.

We must never let someone say things like "It's not me that's racist, it was the AI that made the decision!"

Presumably the same conclusions - this judge is lenient, this one harsh - are what people familiar with the courts would have in their minds anyway. And those people would have reached those conclusions using a neural network.

If this law is real the story might evolve. People in the law industry will know how to structure an offshore entity that can do the analysis. And people who get the results are going to know how to act like they didn't need the computer.

But if you present hard evidence it might challenge the official fiction of a fair and impartial legal process.

Last time I checked, freedom of thought was a part of article 10.

A challenge through line of EU institutes may well be able to cancel this law.

Can you publish the algorithms and the method of scrapping data and let the client make the final assembly of the pieces?

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