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US blogger fined 8,000 Euros by France for criticizing Société Générale (globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com)
267 points by jstalin on Nov 21, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 227 comments

The comments here are atrocious. I expected more from HN than senseless French-bashing and 'Murica flag-waving.

A few informations for context:

- Two bloggers were fined, one French, and the American one for quoting the French.

- The fine emanated from the Commission des Sanctions (sanction committee) of the AMF (Autorité des Marchés Financiers), the French stock market regulator.

- It's supposed to be independent, but they are notoriously in bed with banks, with most members of the commission being former higher executives of major banks. Therefore, it's no surprise that they will do this kind of stunts in order to protect their interests.

- It's been talked about in several (right-wing) publications like Atlantico or Les Échos, where journalists have pointed out that this is one more action that proves the absence of credibility of the AMF.

Funny, I expected more from HN than people using the term "Murica". Also, before complaining about the quality of comments one should give the system time to correct itself as people vote on them. Otherwise you may end up with a highly visible comment that refers to outdated information..

Well, I apologize for having gotten a bit carried away; of course not all comments in this thread are worthless.

That being said, I stand by my opinion that reddit-style pun threads [1] or random and unrelated politically biased ramblings [2][3] really shouldn't belong to HN discussions.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6775262

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6775363

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6775474

For attempting to tell HN what belongs on HN, I hereby fine you $500,000 USD, payable in solid gold Dungeons & Dragons miniatures. Any response must be written in Morse code while cooking a souffle.

So he should wait until the point where posting a comment would just result in it being buried?

Maybe a better solution would have been to reply to those "bad" comments instead of creating one, but it's kind of rare to see so many free bashing in HN that you don't really want them to stay on top for too long.

> So he should wait until the point where posting a comment would just result in it being buried?

When the comments are about other comments on the thread, and not about the linked story, many of us actually prefer that they're buried.

I think most reasonnable people in France, both left and right wing, find it ridiculous. That being said, being french, the level of defiance and incomprehension the people in charge in France show for the internet is beyond ridiculous, and border on dangerous.

By and large, there is a feeling that French politicians are disconnected from both modern realities and their electorate. I think it is, in most instance, correct. Their lack of understanding of technology (the famous "OpenOffice firewall incident", for instance) is partly a result of the lack of renewal of the French political class. Like many people from older generations who grew up without it, they don't necessarily have the ability or the interest in engaging with modern technology.

This certainly does nothing to help with the record level of discontentment the government is experiencing.

> That being said, being french, the level of defiance and incomprehension the people in charge in France show for the internet is beyond ridiculous, and border on dangerous.

Yes, but as the news show regularly, there's nothing specifically French towards lawmakers increasing will to control what is said and done on the internet. (The UK and the US come to mind, but there are plenty of other examples elsewhere)

I'm French myself and I am frankly appalled by our government's (and the previous ones), but let's be honest, the grass isn't much greener elsewhere. (Except perhaps in Scandinavian / northern countries?)

My experience is the most clued-up are in fact the Dutch. I am Swedish and live in Sweden, but work with the Dutch a lot.

For your arrogant comment, I hereby fine you 100 bit coins and a copy of every game on Steam that I don't currently own. Any responses to this comment must be made in German and include an mp3 file of the responder reading aloud the written German in the most stereotypically shrill German accent possible.

Come on, that's so languagist. You should at least allow for something universal like Egyptian, Demotic, or Greek. That way the rest of us have a chance of translating it.

Upon further consideration, I will waive the German language requirement for responses in exchange for responses written in ancient Greek only, and accompanied with a lifetime supply of feta cheese.

> I expected more from HN than senseless French-bashing and 'Murica flag-waving.

Criticizing France in this case has nothing to do with nationalism. It's about basic rights.

I'm disheartened by how many countries disrespect their citizens' innate freedoms--even first-world countries that are supposedly democratic and.

Prosecuting and fining someone publishing an opinion is wrong. Trying to fine a blogger 8000 Euros for merely quoting another blogger is ridiculous (and wrong). Why doesn't France have an equivalent of the First Amendment?

This story reminds me of another a few weeks ago, about UK police forcing people to give up their encryption passwords on penalty of jail time. That's an unreasonable search; and even if the subject is guilty, forced self-incrimination is wrong. Why doesn't the UK have equivalents of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments?

I'm not suggesting that the US is better at respecting people's rights. Better laws don't help if the government chooses to ignore the law.

The Bill of Rights was revolutionary in the 18th century. The fact that many of those basic rights are still routinely violated in 2013---even in places like the US, the UK, and France---makes me sad. We have democracies. Why can't we do better?

> The comments here are atrocious. I expected more from HN than senseless French-bashing and 'Murica flag-waving.

You could be excused for thinking you landed on r/worldnews when reading this thread.

There are some dumb comments on here, but I expected it would bring a few comments from France and I found those interesting.

I hereby fine Société Générale 8,000 bitcoins for violating the American constitution (never mind jurisdiction since they don't care for it either), notice duly served by posting this comment in a public forum and witnessed by whoever happens to read this.

Subsequent letters will be in Navajo, and the recipient will be required to respond in Navajo

You can practice your Navajo by watching Star Wars in Navajo. Darth Vader sounds particularly scary. http://www.npr.org/2013/06/20/193496493/translated-into-nava...

Yeah the United States never does anything outside its jurisdiction that anyone else finds annoying.

That said, the level of institutionalized corruption in France is pretty outrageous. If I recall correctly, the president of France receives a truck load of cash every year which can be used with zero accountability (and that's legal). Of course the French (and pretty much any democratic country) can look at our electoral system and laugh.

Yeah the United States never does anything outside its jurisdiction that anyone else finds annoying.

Except we aren't talking about the US right now, we are talking about one particularly boneheaded action by France.


This is what appears to me to be an American (or USian to be more precise) complaining about France fining a US Blogger, so a direct comparison of the US to France is highly apropos.

Except that Mike Shedlock is not personally America and has no control of the actions of the American government.

Also, there's only one nation in the world called "America," so it's plenty precise. The continents are "North America" and "South America," or jointly "the Americas." Posturing aside, I don't believe that a reasonable person is likely to confuse them.

> Also, there's only one nation in the world called "America,"

That's going way off topic, but I couldn't resist. I can't find such nation in the globe.

And the continent is called "America". There is even one country that formed by the union of several smaller ones that calls itself "United States of America" because it's located at this continent called "America".

> That's going way off topic, but I couldn't resist. I can't find such nation in the globe.

Are you also opposed to referring to the United Mexican States/Estados Unidos Mexicanos as simply "Mexico"?

Come to think, it's a little odd that you find "America," a word found in only one nation's name, to be imprecise, but are totally fine with "United States," which is found in two current and like ten historical nations.

> And the continent is called "America". There is even one country that formed by the union of several smaller ones that calls itself "United States of America" because it's located at this continent called "America".

On further reading, the definition of a "continent" is completely arbitrary, but dividing the Americas into two continents has been standard in the English-speaking world for ages. The single-continent standard used in the Hispanic world is equally arbitrary; you don't get to claim that your arbitrary standard is objectively correct but ours is cultural imperialism.

I was responding to someone who was cheerfully making anti-French statements because a US citizen was mistreated by some piece of the French government. This is no different (except in degree) from an Pakistani citizen (say) being killed by the US government, also outside its legal jurisdiction.

You were responding to someone who was being derogatory towards Société Générale. How is this 'Anti-French'? Isn't your objection here pretty ironic considering the topic at hand?

Both are bad (although obviously there is a discrepancy in seriousness here). We should not fail to criticize one because the other also happens.

Yes but to make sweeping complaints about the French as an American is absurd. (And note that I myself pointed out that France has a serious problem with institutionalized corruption, not that the US has anything to crow about.)

> "Yes but to make sweeping complaints about the French as an American is absurd."

I'll repeat what I've said elsewhere in this dicussion:

"Insane laws in one place do not make laws in another place any less insane. If we universalized your attitude towards criticism, then only those blessed to live in utopias would have the privilege of leveling complaints at other systems."

Americans do get to criticize the French government. Americans get to criticize the American government. French get to criticize the French government. French get to criticize the American government. Zimbabweans get to criticize the Portuguese government. The Portuguese get to criticize the the Swiss government.

Everybody gets to criticize any government they please, no matter what government happens to lay stake to the place that they live. It is absurd to think otherwise.

I don't see where gnu8 made any statement and/or attack about France. Would you kindly point this out for me so I can read it?

Nobody you were replying to made any sweeping complaints about the French. And pointing it out as a citizen of the U.S. doesn't count as crowing unless you get defensive and interpret it that way.

Well to be fair, the parent comment brought up the US not the one you are quoting.

He only brought it up to show the absurdity of it - the poster is probably from the US. Any other nation's constitution / body of laws could have been used as the example.

You are probably referring to this: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fonds_sp%C3%A9ciaux

quick translation: before 2001 the President and its ministers used to receive "secret funding" that they could use for whatever they wanted. The money came from Banque de France (public money, not money from a private bank).

This has been mostly suppressed in 2001 (the amounts are now public information), except for secret services funding (for obvious reasons).

So your example is a bit inaccurate and a bit outdated. That said, we certainly have our share of nepotism and collusion.

I'm glad it's been reformed (I think it came to light during the ELF scandal). But yes, my overall point is it's just a matter of pot calling kettle black.

When the pot calls the kettle black, the pot is not incorrect.

Why stop there? I fine them all of France. I now own France and they need to get off my lawn.

Hereby notarized by a third-party.

As the jury, I formally affirm this seems legit.

As taxing authority, please send in 17% by the end of the quarter.

I'll be sure to make the transfer to the account with my name on it.

I second the motion and move that the penalty be assessed immediately.

Submitted to the Court of Public Opinion

Subsequent letters will be in Swahili and SG will be required to respond in Swahili.

Addenda will be in Malayalam though.

That's cute. You need one thing -- someone to enforce that for you.

A court they would listen to, an army, your buddy Louie with a baseball bat, ready to break their CEO's knees.

Societe Generale is in a better standing than you here. Some courts in some countries (France) using their enforcement agencies will most likely do their bidding for them.

In other words I can fine everyone millions of dollars. Look I fined you and everyone here $1B. Guess what chance I have of collecting that?

Disregard other things, deep down that is what it boils down to.

The payment is to be aligned within the next python update at the following address: 1gxud5uquSr1aE9uknj2W6K2WLDwPHEQu

Not surprising, there is no free speech in France.

Especially when it comes to crooked banks or politicians. France is a strange country that likes to give lessons about democracy to the rest of the world, but when you look at things closer, France is closer to a monarchy than a democracy.

Everything is so centralised that information usually comes from an single source of truth, that journalist dont even bother questioning since they are all married with politicians (literally).

> Not surprising, there is no free speech in France.

Entirely false, except if you mean ABSOLUTE free speech. In this case I would argue no country has one. I guess you come from the US? See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_excep...

> Especially when it comes to crooked banks or politicians.

Weren't we talking about the 1% recently where you live?

> France is closer to a monarchy than a democracy.

I like those empty statements.

Furthermore, who is upvoting your comment? It's just plain bashing with no real arguments.

You know what, I'm willing to bet that camus2 is either French, or at least French-speaking (sorry camus2, your English is awesome, way better than my French, and I have been living in France for 10 years, but still, you make mistakes sometimes...). Which makes your comment rather ridiculous, seeing as it is one big ad-hominem based on nationality...

> Furthermore, who is upvoting your comment? It's just plain bashing with no real arguments.

Bravo. That's the most beautifully hypocritical internet comment I've seen in quite a while.

If there were really ABSOLUTE free speech in France, how is it the French blogger in the story was fined ten thousand euros?

>France is a strange country that likes to give lessons about democracy to the rest of the world

Coming from an american (I guess), i find this hilarious.

>France is closer to a monarchy than a democracy. I can get the comparison, current constitution was made to give important powers to the president (heavily influenced by Charles de Gaulle, which wasn't the best idea).

American democracy funding looks very much like bi-partisan plutocracy, when looked from outside, so not really a model. (And honestly, why stop with the work half-done? Be honest and bring it to one party. Or is it even harder to give democracy lesson afterward?

I was trained in school by French teachers and they spoke of France as though it was the cradle of civilization. Not just democracy came from there, but culture itself!

Well, I'll have to inform you that this was incorrect! I grew up in Vermont, and let me assure you, it is Quebec that is the cradle of civilization!

Is there anyone in the world that could hate a Canadian?

I want to get a decal for my pickup truck's back window with an image of the White House burning and a crying bald eagle, backdropped by an American flag, and the words "1812, Never Forget".

Also I'll need to get a pickup truck.

Camus2 seems to be French. You would not be at risk of making embarrassing mistakes like this if you made an effort to find actual arguments, instead of attempting to criticize the person you are imagining the commenter to be.

Just seen that.

For what it's worse, this kind of critics hurt less from a fellow french (maybe because we have endured stupid governments together?).

My comment was not my brightest, far from it (none of my comment in this thread, in fact), but seeing so much french-bashing à la reddit, was too much for me I guess.

The worse is that I read this story in a french newspaper an hour before, which was less partial than the convict's blog. Gave up posting it here because paywall + language where too much hurdle for HN, and couldn't find a better article.

Seing this article afterward and the quality of the response (up to the article's value I guess), well, my reaction was not up to my own standards.


Still, the french institution judgment was quite stupid, and we had a good laugh. The blogger's reaction to is incoming legal battle was beyond stupid. When you receive official document an incoming legal battle, you don't ignore it outright, you either deal with it or hire someone to do it, you check what you can do and what you risk. Ignoring it until you are fined is not the best way to be heard when complaining afterward.

I'll let the previous comment I made in the thread untouched. That way I'll think twice before being rude next time.

This is sort of true. I ran a publication there for a few years and there are a lot of lines you cannot cross, lines that don't exist in the UK or the US.

One I particularly remember (though I can't quote it exactly) is that you can (could?) be hauled into court for criticising heads of state, domestic or foreign.

Note that the UK has its own oddities: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BCA_v._Singh.

Point taken, but that case did also generate huge controversy and a change in the law in an attempt to stop such an oddity occurring again.

Probably a misunderstanding. French press criticize the President 24/7. You can't insult the president or any other official in public, or any other French citizen.

Just like in most other European countries, France lets you say what you want, as long as you don't spread lies or hatred.

That makes sense, and I'll be the first to admit my understanding of French law was not as clear as it should have been, but the line between "criticise" and "insult" is very fine.

For instance, my understanding is that, in France, one should think twice before using the words "Mugabe" and "despot" in the same sentence. This is not a problem in the UK or the US at all.

But maybe this is also part of what made France such a very civilised, cultured and enjoyable place to live.

The line between criticize and insult is so fine, I can scarcely see it. It's like the line between the ocean and the beach.

Can a French person say "The president is illiterate.", as Americans have often said about their president? Could they say "The idiotic president keeps on making up words."? Harsh criticism is naturally insulting.

One of the main French newspapers recently wrote that Mugabe a despot. http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2013/07/31/au-zimbabwe-le-der...

Insults are not (usually) hatred. It's closer to a rule against being rude, which doesn't seem to me like something that should be enforced by the police.

> Not surprising, there is no free speech in France.

There is, with some restrictions like in most countries:


Just like everywhere else: you are free to do whatever you want, provided you are willing to accept the consequences.

In this case, the consequences of publicly disagreeing with the Société Générale's accounting practices are €8000.

Or, perhaps,

"The AFM has no jurisdiction over me, so they won't collect. As a US citizen living in the US, I am not subject to the absurdities of French laws, or French witch hunts. All they get from me is a vow to never go to France."

Which is kind of a pity. France is beautiful, and the food is delicious. [I'm tempted to add, "It is truly unfortunate that the country is infested with the French", but ain't nobody got no sense of humor, either.]

I would very much be interested in the source describing this media-politics marriage dynamic that you mention.

>> Not surprising, there is no free speech in France.

I don't see this as a free speech thing. I could argue there's no free speech in X. This kind of thing happens everywhere. People with money has power.

I don't think there is a serious, in-depth analysis of the situation anywhere, but here is an article [1] that reminds these facs : - the President's partner is a journalist - 2 of the main ministers (Education and Work) are married to journalists - Another mediatised one (Productive recovery) is living with another journalist

As for former cases, we had : - the minister for foreign affairs who was married to a political journalist on public television (Bernard Kouchner and Christine Ockrent) - a Minister for Industry and later Finances who was married to a journalist (DSK, later infamously evicted from the IMF, and Anne Sinclair) - a Minister for Finances who was married to an evening news presenter (Jean-Louis Borloo and Beatrice Schonberg)

These are the most notorious cases that I can recall, but there are plenty of others. It's almost always a male political leader and a female journalist.

[1] http://www.courrierinternational.com/article/2012/06/08/le-m...

He is referring to the fact that some well-known journalists are married or live with some well-known people from politics world. For instance, Anne Sinclair, the wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was presenting a very popular talk-show about politics in the 80/90ties. I know of a few current examples I don't remember of precisely.

> Especially when it comes to crooked banks or politicians. France is a strange country that likes to give lessons about democracy to the rest of the world, but when you look at things closer, France is closer to a monarchy than a democracy.

Because a monarchy is something like a dictatorship? Absolute monarchies _could_ have similarities with a dictatorship but these almost do not exist anymore. Please dive into some background information about, for example, a constitutional monarchy like we have in the Netherlands [1]. No way this resembles non-democracy.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_monarchy

That comment is just as insightful if your replace "France" with any other random country.

for the record , i'm french, born in Angers, have spent time in USA and Canada. I love my country. Yet, having spent time abroad , helped me have a better understanding of my culture and its shortcomings. Sorry for the typos.

This is preposterous, do you think french people live in a cave? Last time I checked, twitter, google, facebook,... were available even in France, check it by yourself I think you'll find real french people expressing real thoughts. And nobody here trust any journalists or any politicians anymore, so I don't know on what your informations are based but it doesn't reflect what I see here.

This judgment is unenforceable in the United States as a matter of public policy (thanks to our First Amendment). So it's merely an attempt by Société Générale to muzzle critics.

If Mish were a multinational company with operations in France, it would be different. But he's not. So he can gleefully ignore it, as he is, correctly, doing.

> So he can gleefully ignore it, as he is, correctly, doing.

Ignoring it would mean "never base your action on that decision". However, now he can't travel to France or any of the french territories (Martinique etc.). That's not what I'd call ignoring. It's a shitty situation: Fined for invalid reasons in a trial where you never had a chance to fight.

Yes, other countries have silly laws. I'm sure if you set up a blog complaining about the king of Swaziland, for instance, and his predilection for selecting an additional wife, willing or not, every year from the selection of bare-breasted virgin teenage girls paraded before him[1], you might not want to visit that particular corner of Africa.

But the reach of Swazi or French laws is limited unless you visit Swazi or French soil. And in the case of the French libel law in question here, I'm not clear it would even preclude a visit to Paris. Do you have any citation for the proposition that a visitor would be arrested for what would be a civil tort?

BTW, if he fought it in France, he would lose. See yesterday's "due process" discussion. If it's a bad law, due process helps you not one whit.

[1] True: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/aug/30/aids.andrewmeld...

Even better, he is publicizing it.

UK banks are just as bad. A company I worked for previously gave a bank's investment products a high risk rating because of poor investments/compliance and they sent all sorts of nasty shit out.

Every bank has a "send people nasty shit" department by the looks.

The answer is as always: "fuck off".

I think the better answer is to not reply at all or ever acknowledge receipt of said 'nasty shit'. Make every step a challenge for the opponent, it's a war of attrition. And never get mad at the lawyer, s/he usually bills by the hour and they are delighted to send out useless letters all day long. Informing the bank that this is a waste of time is bad for job security.

It's perfectly fine to get mad at the lawyer for abusing their skill doing such people-hostile work. They can choose a more honorable line of lawyering.

...such as ambulance-chasing.

...or running for political office.

Bit hard when they are recorded deliveries.

Telling banks and other financial institutions to fuck off was just an operating cost for the company in question. It was in the budget.

That's how I learned how the finance system worked in the UK. Assholes lobbing grenades at each other whilst the rest of the companies just get on with it.

Nasty Shit Sender would be an interesting job title.


I don't understand how this court system can be so silly as to fail to recognize that it has no jurisdiction over someone. Isn't the question of jurisdiction one of the first steps in any court case?

What do you mean by "no jurisdiction over someone?" If a crime was committed in france they can ask for extradition. That would probably not result in anything in this case, but as long as it's a crime by french law committed in france the case may as well be valid. So all the court will check whether a punishable crime was committed in france.

They could collect the fine when the blogger enters france or maybe, depending on the case, the european union or an associated state.

> If a crime was committed in france they can ask for extradition.

But it wasn't "committed in France". This is getting ridiculous, not to mention extremely dangerous. A few more cases of these from the "democracies" of the world, and soon China will start demanding the same thing.

"You said something bad about China online? We're just going to fine you, or ask for your extradition and arrest."

France could just be following in the footsteps of the O'Dwyer case.

> "You said something bad about China online? We're just going to fine you, or ask for your extradition and arrest."

Sure, that can happen. China can and might ask for extradition. This is however a different question from whether the USA will extradite. Extradition is usually denied in cases where the action in question was not a crime in the country that you're asking to extradite.

Think about it: A German commits a murder in the USA which is discovered only after he returns to Germany. Does your "no jurisdiction" line of reasoning still apply?

I don't understand the point of your hypothetical. A murder that physically took place in the USA is clearly "committed in the USA".

> it's a crime by french law committed in france

Did you miss the part where it was an American blogger? It wasn't committed in france.

The location where the crime occured on the internet is often defined as "is this website reachable in this region" which is basically true for all websites. It's a stupid concept, right, but that's true in germany as well. Make a website, make it in german, target german audiences and german courts can make that their jurisdiction. American courts often apply the same pattern when a .com domain is involved. See the latest round of ICE freezes.

France has no jurisdiction. U.S. courts will not enforce this civil judgment. Our 1A precludes them from doing so. And the blogger in question said he's not going to France.

(BTW, a civil judgment is not "a crime by French law.")

It was not a civil judgment but a public one handled by an independant administrative authority with the power to pronounce sanctions (French public law is separate from both criminal and civil law and includes administrative law).

It is not so much about free speech: the two guys have been fined for publishing incorrect information about the financial situation of a bank. It is more about financial regulation than free speech. I'm not so familiar with american law, but I'm pretty sure you got related situations (for example concerning the handling of sensitive financial information, or insider trading, etc.)

Disregarding the question of the reality of what they've been accused of, the fine against Mish is illegal considering the right of defendants to translation and an interpretor has not been respected. This decision will be very probably striken down by any real judge that get her hands on this case.

>I'm not so familiar with american law, but I'm pretty sure you got related situations (for example concerning the handling of sensitive financial information, or insider trading, etc.

We have laws that apply to stakeholders and insiders. As far as I know third parties are free to say or even make up anything they want, as long as it's not fraud or libel.

It is all about free speech. Publishing incorrect information about the financial situation of a bank (in the way Mish did it, and even assuming it's incorrect) is protected by the First Amendment in the United States. But it is not in France. See NYT v. Sullivan and the separate but related concept of "neutral reportage."

France, as any other country, decides for itself whether or not it has jurisdiction other than if/when the jurisdiction is decided through treaties.

E.g. I'm Norwegian - Norway claims jurisdiction for certain types of crimes worldwide for Norwegian citizens (quite a few other countries do too).

Enforcability is entirely separate from jurisdiction.

France can claim jurisdiction as much as it likes, but U.S. courts will not as a practical matter (we settled this in the Yahoo case) recognize it and enforce the judgment.

> France has no jurisdiction. U.S. courts will not enforce this civil judgment.

These two things are totally unrelated and I never said the lather would happen.

> it's a crime by french law committed in france

Was this actually a crime or just a civil dispute?

Neither criminal nor civil! French has a separate body of law called public law that includes administrative law.

In this case, the fine was pronounced by an independent administrative authority in charge of the regulation of financial markets. No judge was involved in the sentencing.

It's a bit more subtle. French judges consider that they have jurisdiction if one of the party is in France or (for internet-related things) if the intended public is french. See LICRA vs Yahoo! linked in another comment.

But the intended public wasn't French in this case? The guy is an English-language blogger.

If _one_ of the parties. In this case, the bank.

But they weren't a party until they sued; you're saying that France claims jurisdiction whenever a French national sues anyone anywhere in the world over any action?

How very... American of them.

It is a peculiarity of French administrative law. It's not a court that fined Mish, but an Autorité Administrative Indépendante (AAI or independent administrative authority, but I'm sure you did not need the translation) with the power to fine people (there are only a few).

Basically, if he appeals, it will very probably be overturned by a proper judge. Another AAI in charge of the regulation of the telecommunications sector got striken badly by a decision of our Constitutionnal court (no less) which suppressed its power to pronounce sanctions, judging the protection of the rights of defence was not effective. It's going to end the same way here I would say.

Courts in France have never bothered about jurisdiction when it comes to the Internet. See [1] and [2], for e.g.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LICRA_v._Yahoo!

[2] http://news.yahoo.com/french-court-google-must-drop-9-mosley...

Ehh, Google has meaningful ties to France; ie. they do business there.

    Google Paris

    8 Rue de Londres

    75009 Paris

Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_of_Wikipedia#France (Although I'm not sure any courts were involved in that)

There was actually less than any court involved there, any rogue policeman could do that, somehow it's not even a censorship problem but a more general procedural problem that happened to involve censorship. The poor guy didn't know that you should always call a lawyer and not listen to the police when you're detained (they tell people calling a lawyer will result in longer detainment).

There would be enough jurisdiction to arrest the guy if he happened to travel to France though. Maybe not enough to have any charges stick, but probably enough to make his life misérables.

Maybe the French are fed up with US judges doing this all the time and this is some kind of revenge?

But U.S. judges don't do this all the time. Meanwhile, a number of European countries (notably the U.K.) are famous for dragging foreigners into defamation cases for conduct that happened entirely outside the country. The U.S. tends to invoke jurisdiction only when you do something quite targeted at the U.S.

To be fair, U.S. judges often don't have the time.

How many time did I see "SUSPECTED Al-Quaida member and his family and some of his neighbors were killed in an explosion while a drone coincidentally flew over his house" in the news this month? I lost count.

A few points:

* French are fed up with US agencies, nothing against US judges.

* This was a civil deliberation, and will probably be nuked if said blogger make appeal.

* That regulator have no way to enforce their decision.

* Yes, this judgment is beyond ridiculous.

* Yes, the AMF should be disbanded (if they are as corrupt as they seem) or need a severe shake (in the case they are 'just' dangerously outdated).

> How many time did I see "SUSPECTED Al-Quaida member and his family and some of his neighbors were killed in an explosion while a drone coincidentally flew over his house" in the news this month? I lost count.

How does this relate? Bombing someone in a foreign country is not an exercise of legal jurisdiction. It's an exercise of a country's sovereign right to exercise military power abroad.

There are two ways to interact with a country. If you're within its legal jurisdiction, you act through legal process. This is where words like "suspected" versus "guilty" have meaning. The other way is the interactions in the state of nature. This is a state of war.

Kim Dotcom?

Aside from the fact that he made most of his money hosting infringing copies of American content, and serving ads to subscribers in the America, there was the more basic hook that he hosted some of the infringing content on servers in Virginia.

That's the problem most of the copyright infringement sites have. They deal primarily in content that is produced by Americans and considered a property right in America. The U.S. wouldn't give a shit if they were just trading foreign music and movies to each other. Even then, it was e.g. the Swedes that went after Pirate Bay (based on a criminal complaint filed by the MPAA in Sweden).

That seems essentially similar to the view of the French body here: if somebody somewhere harms somebody in our country, we can go after them, without regard to the law elsewhere.

If the guy had published the material on a French server, the analogy might be more apropos.

That wasnt a defamation case they were trying to bring him to court for copyright and online piracy violations.

> happened entirely outside the country

> do something quite targeted at the U.S.

You realize that those are two different measuring sticks?

Erm, ask the US?

Yeah, was wondering that myself. Quite ironic that small fact being utterly missed in all this.

Also like the anti French language ignorance. The letter came in French and the recipient couldn't be arsed to spend a few mins on google translate, and some how we are supposed to have some sympathy. On top of that, he also says that he knew there was a legal thing happening, so subsequent letters in French should have got his attention.

And then he has the sheer cheek to talk about insane French law. Hello USA? The go to place for mad law?

This whole thing to me reeks of both ignorance and arrogance.

Not saying the scenario is great, but come on HN. Balance? Or are we still in Freedom Fries mode?

> And then he has the sheer cheek to talk about insane French law. Hello USA? The go to place for mad law?

The US doesn't have insane libel law. Obviously France and the UK do. You can get sued for make factual statements and expect to lose in those countries. It doesn't get any crazier than that.

Why would anyone, upon receiving a letter from a foreign country in a language they do not understand, spend any time at all trying to get it translated? I'd just toss it in the trash, since someone obviously screwed up and sent me a message intended for someone else.

From TFA:

I received one more express letter from France, in English, telling me subsequent letters would be in French (...)

The suggestion that a Google translation of a legal document is reliable is preposterous. Aside from the expected stilted mangling. pronouns are regularly confused and it's not uncommon for something to come across with the exact opposite of it's intended meaning because a negative modifier or idiom is missed.

Maybe let go of some of that righteous internet rage and go for a walk.

> And then he has the sheer cheek to talk about insane French law. Hello USA? The go to place for mad law?

Insane laws in one place do not make laws in another place any less insane. If we universalized your attitude towards criticism, then only those blessed to live in utopias would have the privilege of leveling complaints at other systems.

US doesn't need courts to deal out the punishments

Hilarious. It baffles me how this country continues to operate given the massive public spending/benefits, delightful reforms (e.g. proposed 80% tax rate for high-earners) and pretty xenophobic view on immigration. ALL of my (highly-skilled) French friends do not plan to return in the foreseeable future.

While the situation in TFA is spectacularly ridiculous and shameful for me as a french I don't think it warrants this kind of gratuitous french bashing. Unless of course you want to explain to us what the french taxation laws have to do with this particular court decision.

Also it's 75%, not 80%. That might not be very significant overall but it makes me doubt you really know what you're talking about.

And it's the marginal tax rate (beyond 1 million €).

Worth noting the US top marginal tax rate has been above 90% at several points in history.

Including during the sainted Eisenhower administration.

I guess my comment wasn't strictly limited to this court decision but I wouldn't consider it as French-bashing. I have nothing against your country and compatriots, and I have enjoyed many fun moments there. However, I and my two French flatmates are genuinely curious how France can continue on its current public-spending/entrepreneurship-throttling trajectory.

It's an interesting discussion and I have mixed feelings about the current french "trajectory" as you put it. However I don't think this is the place to discuss politics so I'll refrain from engaging in this debate.

However I think from a hacker perspective it should be interesting to see a country that tries to do things differently from what appears to be the norm in most of the western world and whether it'll succeed or fail utterly. I know that most people on HN are big on "laissez-faire" and business deregulations but it's a bit disingenuous to present it as the solution to all problems.

We value thinking out of the box for engineering, why not for politics? "Look, a new economic system in 30 lines of socialism!".

I wish people were less adamant and more level-headed when it came to politics and economy, it's hard to have a reasonable discussion on those subjects.

> However, I and my two French flatmates are genuinely curious how France can continue on its current public-spending/entrepreneurship-throttling trajectory.

Look at a graph of GDP per capita for France vs. other countries (Google will happily draw one for you if you search for "gdp per capita france" - for me it shows comparisons to UK and Germany)

As it happens, it turns out that the rather substantial aggressive changes to things like working hours and tax laws over the years in France that have caused predictions of doom and gloom have had little to no noticeable impact on GDP per capita - the trajectory for France, UK, Germany and other major European countries are only very minimally differentiated based on their economic policies.

That is how France can continue this.

>ALL of my (highly-skilled) French friends do not plan to return in the foreseeable future.

You are aware that there might be a tiny hint of selection bias at play there... right? ;)

Sure! All skilled folks that leave France, don't want to go back. That's the point.

ALL of my (highly-skilled) french friends still in France do not plan to leave in the foreseeable future.

All my (highly-skilled) foreigner friends do not plan to leave either.

So with your argumentation, France is probably the best country in the world.

Except the ones in the USA have knowledge of both worlds.

I'm not surprised by such a comment, but finding it on HN saddens me.

xenophoby? Oh USA, building a wall to keep your neighbours out of your lawn, please tell me more!

Our economy? Of course American governement-sponsored 'liberalism' is a beacon for the free world, and dissidents are morons. Please have a look at this recent article by Paul Krugman: The Plot Against France[0].

Your high-skilled French friends? I have the luck to be put in that population. What I see around me is that we travel and work world-wide, until we start a family most of the time.

0: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/11/opinion/krugman-the-plot-a...

I don't live in the US, I'm much closer - in London (apparently, the sixth largest French city). I'm not arguing the fact that it can be a lovely country for a French citizen and that you may want to retire there, given the generous benefits you'd be receiving.

However, I know from a few of my friends, who were settling in France for personal reasons, how painful the immigration process can be, especially if you're not white/caucasian.

>you may want to retire there

Having kids and retiring usually do not happen at the same time.

>a few of my friends, who were settling in France for personal reasons

So they're not French. Your first comment is definitely wrong then.

I believe they were referencing the circulaire Guéant[0], which comes from the previous government, wronged many skilled workers & French companies as well -- it sets a 'national preference' for hiring.

0: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circulaire_du_31_mai_2011

Apologies, different sets of friends :]

Set nr 1: French people in London Set nr 2: Non-French people trying to settle in France

Yes, I heard French support for families with children is spectacular. That's what I meant. I just don't understand how it can continue. I lived in a few countries and the French "balance sheet" just doesn't make intuitive sense to me.

Europe has an ocean to keep most of its poorer would-be neighbors away. You can't wave away geography. The US is comparable to Europe, not one country in Europe.

Which is this ocean you are talking about? Because Europe has only the Atlantic Ocean on its West and the nearest countries on the Other side of the Atlantic are the US and Canada.

Perhaps the Mediterranean? They call it a "sea" if you want to be pedantic.

Yes they call it a sea, because it is not an ocean, I don't understand why you call me a pendant. More importantly though, you might not be following the news in Europe, but many immigrants try to cross the Mediterranean in order to get into Europe, and many unfortunately die. So it is not that it keeps anyone away.

I brought up the Mediterranean specifically because of the news reports I have heard about all the people dying while trying to cross. If "many unfortunately die", it sure as fuck seems to be keeping some people away, by killing them. I'll also assume that the serious danger of crossing the sea prevents some people from doing it.

It is pedantic because their are no sea where he lives, so making the distinction is (from his point of view) somewhat useless


PG's scale of levels of disagreement in discourse, that's like a negative 4.

That baffles me how some people are so much bitter toward France they take any occasion to take a cheap shot.

> xenophobic view on immigration.

Given this ranking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_foreign-bo... I don't think we have any advice to receive from anybody on the question of immigration. Granted there are some problems ampiflified by the economic crisis but given the rates of immigration we had to absorb in the previous decades I would say the situation is not that bad.

Why does one have to be in a free-bordered country to critique another nation's immigration policies?

As an American, I disagree with American immigration policies, and also disagree with France's. Is my opinion discounted because I'm an American?

> and also disagree with France's.

I would have said the same thing if he was French, to say France has xenophobic views on immigrations is plain wrong. And yes no direspect to you but I don't think you can rightly evaluate the situation in France by reading comments on internet or articles in the news, you have to live here and see by yourself. I would say two things: there is much more immigration than what the numbers suggest at least in my area (I live in a big town in south of france) and secondly there are a lot less problems and much more integration than what is reported in the news. And BTW, I consider myself as liberal (US meaning of the term) and I'm not bothered by immigration I even welcome it, it's good for diversity, but there is no denying that France has welcomed in the past decades a lot of immigrants so maybe in these difficult times there is a bit more friction than usual.

> you have to live here and see by yourself

Living somewhere doesn't give you as much insight to a place's immigration policies as attempting to emigrate to that place.

Regardless, it's not imprudent to question the efficacy of broad social benefits while simultaneously supporting open borders.

It is equally okay to believe that your country should benefit from the diversity that can only be achieved with easy immigration laws, and be willing to accept an increase in taxes to support that objective.

It's also okay to view the other position as negative based on your views, and a person's country of origin or current residency does not affect the validity of their opinion.

>my (highly-skilled) French friends do not plan to return in the foreseeable future

Selection bias alert! You're more likely to meet people who swore to never return than those don't mind returning.

Not to mention the fact that software engineering salaries are notoriously low in France compared to the US. Thus most people who have emigrated have strong financial incentives to stay there. (Well, at least until they have cancer and crappy insurance or they have to send their kids to college)

Printed money is a helluva drug.

France is part of the Euro, and it's pretty much the Germans who decide when new Euros get printed. They haven't proven sympathetic to the idea of printing many recently.

Since when does french-bashing need to be factually correct ?

11% growth of Euro M1 in two years begs to differ...

The world is awash in printed money, not just the Eurozone and not just France is taking advantage of it.

There's a reason central bankers are always so concerned with anchoring expectations. In deciding how much money to hold onto, people and businesses make a trade off between liquidity and the cost inflation imposes on them of holding a given quantity of money. But if people's expectations regarding future inflation change, that tradeoff changes in a positive feedback cycle. If people expect more inflation then they'll want to hold less money than otherwise and in most cases this will cause more inflation[1]. If people expect less inflation than previously they'll now want to hold more money, causing further deflation.

Now, inflation expectations have clearly come unanchored because the GDP deflater, the measure of inflation most relevant to this particular effect, has been stuck closer to 1% than 2% since the financial crisis and the price spread between inflation protected and normal bonds means that the people who hold most of the M1 think this is likely to continue.

These effects are both self-limiting, the desire for liquidity isn't that strong so we only saw an 11% growth in the money supply despite inflation falling by 30%. And the inflationary spiral will quickly (but painfully) stall out if the central bank doesn't keep printing money to match demand.

Which is to say that sure, there's more cash floating around, but it's not just washing around it's being stored in people's pockets. It might be liable to cause excess inflation if the ECB ever manages to convince people that it will be able to hit its targets in the future, but it's not particularly benefiting France at the moment.

[1] In the mainstream economics sense of a rise in the price level, not the odd Austrian school definition.

This might be pretty meta, but from looking at some of these comments makes me wonder how in the age of the internet, which give us a de facto global commons onto exchange ideas/information/currency and securely for those who take the steps to do so, some people still have an an affinity for whichever line drawn around them the sand in which one had no say in personally. Can we form something better through the aforementioned means? And what will it take for more people to start looking outside the box for solutions? More increased hardships of whimsical imposition?

If I understand you correctly, I think it has to do with the fact that their narratives don't align with the information. And that's only if the sources are credible (to them), the bias isn't obvious/against the readers bias, and the facts are presented clearly to them (presentation).

So the major barrier to what you & I enjoy as the internet for people to adopt in my opinion, are the communication barriers we all face everyday. You and I most likely are somewhat uncommon because more people are more apt to do their socializing in real life.

That said, we are seeing global communication at it's best. For instance, I'm an anarchist. But more specifically, and libertarian-socialist. One of my many hobbies is to argue with other political theory enthusiasts. More specifically, other Anarchists.

For such a small group of people, it would make more sense to band together in common ideology to become stronger (like the internet), but humans have a way with creating division where there ought not to be none IMO.

Would love you opinion on if removing this division in ourselves is possible, or if you don't believe that's universally true.

I think I would have to agree with your opinion about banding together in common ideology, but I'm not sure about the stronger part (what that means to me).

What I mean by that is that I haven't (nor do I think I will ever fully) decide(d) if that becoming stronger is to exert that influence over other ways of thinking/being or to become stronger so that me as the individual can live and move about the earth as freely as I choose understanding the danger that I may present upon myself and that upon other human beings trying to do the same or something else. So I guess whether the division in ourselves can be removed or not, It will ultimately come down to the individual or small group of people to make it so either way. And that's where I am now: working on something with a friend (maybe people more in the future) that will help explore what that means to me.

All the best!

I would be more happy to read something like "Human blogger fined 8,000 euros by the french justice department for criticizing a bank".

Now it sounds like the people of France decided to fine just an American blogger.

Looks like a bad choice of re-title. But I don't think it was intended to highlight the fact the blogger was American.

> Human blogger fined 8,000 euros by the french justice department for criticizing a bank

You missed the point where they were fining a non-French blogger that was giving straight facts and practicing his free speech.

Well, those are both bad title, since french justice has nothing to do with it.

"Human blogger fined 8,000 euros by the french assholes for criticizing a bank" is the closest to reality.

"Human blogger fined 8,000 euros by the french independent authority for criticizing a bank" is close enough to reality and politically correct.

Non-French doesn't mean American.

I mean, do you believe the case would be different if the blogger was, say, Italian?

The hypocrisy of the comments here is hilarious.

This is exactly the same as the MPAA shutting down websites and fining people all over the world. All the people here crying "they have no jurisdiction!" are really just getting a taste what their own government has been doing to people all around the world for decades.

Never mind 'Murica going around the world enforcing their laws and ideals with their armed forces.

Hacker News is certainly a hotbed of pro-MPAA activism.

How many MPAA backers do you think you'll find here?

As others point out: Many here (even those of us who live in the US!) feel that it is equally a load of hogwash for the US to try go after others around the world. There's no hypocrisy to call "bullshit!" on both groups of cases.

I don't agree with the MPAA fines either, but I wouldn't say that copyright infringement is the same as free speech....

Can I just say how much I hate that Google automatically turns blogspot.com into the TLD of your own country? Who the hell wants that?

Google does (or did?, I only use the browser search field) that to the search page URL as well.

And that's maddening. If I want to search some english terms, the easiest way to get meaningfull results it by tunneling my query through some computer at the US.

Google just assumes that everybody can only speach one language, and is only intersted in one country, even when explicitly told otherwise.

...and I want it to work the other way. I want to be able to enter English terms, and have pages from other languages returned.

I have no idea how that would work, but it's frustrating finding my www experience stuck in a UK/US bubble.

As for Google, does /ncr (no country redirect) still work?

Well, you can also install the Google SSL search plugin in Firefox to get rid of this madness.

This coverage is going to get him more than 8KE worth of blog visitors. Particularly the "hey, this little blogger was sharp enough to uncover some real weird stuff on the part of SG" angle. Blog readers eat that up.

While Mish isn't as well known as Drudge, he isn't a little blogger. Just because he doesn't write about growth hacking his angular startup into YC doesn't mean he has no reach.

I suggest you add "growth hacking my angular startup into YC" into your HN bio. That's beautiful.

By "little blogger" I don't mean to compare him to other bloggers. I meant that he's little in comparison to French banks.

The AFM has no jurisdiction over me, so they won't collect. As a US citizen living in the US, I am not subject to the absurdities of French laws, or French witch hunts. All they get from me is a vow to never go to France.

This was likely the desired outcome: a chilling effect. However, there is no need to be intimidated, Mr. Shedlock can still travel freely to France without worry. There are no debtors prisons, no credit rating agencies, and assets are difficult to seize outside of a criminal conviction for violent crimes. At worst, he will receive more letters in French.

These stupid short-sighted governments are going to ruin the Internet for the rest of us through their greed for money (like in this case) and power (NSA mass surveillance).

Some might argue that they already have ruined the Internet. National firewalls, massive endemic surveillance, and political-industrial shenanigans involving the telecoms controlling the backbones are a significant threat, and not trivial to route around. When powerful parties begin aggressively policing the content on the network instead of just controlling the infrastructure, that is just the evidence that we have already lost.

Viable efforts to decentralize, universally encrypt traffic, and support true identities alongside pseudonyms and anonymous users started too late to avoid stepping backwards on service quality while moving forward on network freedoms.

I think Tim O'Reilly or Jeff Jarvis or Clay Shirky (unfortunately I don't have the bookmark anymore) already addressed this:

The case is a prime example that what you write is not only the jurisdiction where you write it, but also the jurisdiction where people read it. (And the jurisdiction where it stored and where it is going through as network traffic.)

what you write is not only the jurisdiction

I think you a word there.

It's fairly absurd to say anyone who posts anything online should follow the laws of all places where whatever they posted could be read.

If you publish something, it can be read everywhere. There should be no surprise that people will judge your words based on their customs, on their laws, on their terms, and they will act within their jurisdiction.

But that goes both ways: if a "Nigerian prince" scams you, you will not stop just because you were originally out of his jurisdiction.

Note that this stupidity from a French independent administration didn't end up in droning a whole family and in the end everybody is good for a laugh and life carries on. This case has absolutely no chance of passing any legal test.

>The AFM has no jurisdiction over me, so they won't collect. As a US citizen living in the US, I am not subject to the absurdities of French laws, or French witch hunts.

Just you wait till the transatlantic free-trade association is in place...

I don't see so much difference in France, the US or other countries:

Money has not become king in our society, no! It has become God and the money-people are the priests of our religion! We are not so much better as the middle ages where.

At least Commission des Sanctions didn't send drones to bomb the guys with hellfire missiles. I'd say the US doesn't have much moral authority on extranational law enforcement, fiscal or otherwise.

Please stop playing their game. The 1%, or maybe the 0.01%, wants the rest of us to fight stupidly over which country is better. "My laws are better", "your banks are crap" etc

This is a world wide class warfare we are living. Don't play the countries confrontation games. Don't be their pawn.

We the people should be together against the powerful ones and demand our rights everywhere, not just in our country.

We need to globalize justice, not just the economy.

<slightly demagogic and rushed rant/>

That guy managed to instantly go from slightly above zero respect to negative, when i copy-pasted stuff and noticed that his site saw fit to add spam onto that in the buffer.

So you copied his content and were mad that he included text which noted you copied his content?

Ctrl+C means copy the text, with optional formatting. It doesn't mean "run a script", and this little trick implies two things: first, that the author is going to assume that anyone who copies text is trying to steal the content without attribution; secondly, that having been corrected in your naughty ways, you'll blithely accept the link he's pasted in there.

It's a web faux-pas, the equivalent of having your whole site in Flash, or trying to disable right-click for fear that someone might steal your precious, precious content.

"his content"

It's not yours. He can do what he wants with it.

Designing your website to hijack basic system functions is bullshit, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to copy text from an article (quoting it for discussion on a Hacker News thread is the first one that comes to mind).

Unfortunately, cramming spam into copied text seems to be getting more popular, and rudeness aside it's a potential security risk (i.e. if an unsuspecting help-seeker copy-pastes a command line and it turns into a completely different command line in the buffer). Is there a plugin yet to disable copy-buffer spam specifically, or would I need to disable JavaScript completely?

It's his content. He can make as easy or difficult to copy as he wants. It isn't spam, it's attribution. Your self entitled comment really worries me.

It appears that that is indeed what Mithaldu said. Well done, A+ for reading comprehension.

To be fair: I am less concerned about the adding of text, but the fact that it also adds a newline.

I copied it with the intent of putting quotes around it and adding the link to the end of it. However as is, i had to copy it into an editor and mangle it there, before posting it in chat.

"his content" It's not yours. He can do what he wants with it. The newline was there in the code. His code.

Sure, he can do what he wants to do with it.

That doesn't mean that it isn't very disrespectful behavior to his audience. :)

Only because one can do something doesn't mean one should.

Well, it's not from a script in his page, because it does not work with me. It must be from a 3rd party script, but there are so many of them that I'm simply not curious enough to discover wich.

Anyway, that blog is hosted on a 3rd party service, owned by an ad company. It's not that easy to blame him for what the service does. (Does Mish even know that blogger inserts ads there?)

It is from a script in his page:


I've also never seen that on another blogspot blog, so while they might've added more stuff, i don't think it's that.

So much for Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality.

Compare American "product defamation" law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_libel_laws and the UK "Trafigura" lawsuit.

"Hey France! you can't possibly borrow more than 27 times your house's value, that's crazy. Look at the US, they only borrow 17 times their houses value - that's prudent fiscal behaviour."

yeah I feel so much happier

I hereby fine Société Générale for overuse of acute accents.

lol, fuck the french :)

I say that in complete jest, but that is hilarious.

Freedom is dead.

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