Saturday, April 21, 2007

Internet outlaws?

Tomorrow evening, the tradition of election-night parties will be in full swing from one end of France to the other. The general idea, to avoid boredom, is that you invite along friends from several points on the voting spectrum. This means that the party is sure to be neither wholly joyous nor totally sad. While one party-goer is lamenting in tears, another is exploding in joy.

Not surprisingly, an interesting party-guest, tomorrow afternoon, will be the Internet, whose Googlistic websites have the habit of behaving from time to time like oracles in Ancient Greece, as if they knew everything... even before it happened. In other words, the Internet should normally be able to tell us who's won the election long before any kind of formal decision has been established. Worse still, tomorrow afternoon, a theoretical French voter, knowing already who has won and who has lost, should be able to wander along to the booths and cast his meaningless vote. Now, Napoléon never reckoned on this kind of technology. And the present-day French Republic doesn't like this scandalous logic at all. One doesn't need to beat around the bush. It's against the law of the republic.

Conclusions. Tomorrow evening, a team of competent French Internet cops will be looking out for offenders: that's to say, webmasters who would dare to announce the election results before 8 o'clock in the evening. I'm alarmed at a personal level in that my journalist daughter would appear to have received a mission from her boss that consists of trying to break the law in this domain... so that she'll be able to write an article from the jailhouse on Monday morning claiming: "Your favorite TV magazine knew who won and who lost at least an hour before the rest of you... which explains why I'm dispatching this article from a prison cell." With friends, I'll bring her oranges.

French jails, tomorrow evening, should theoretically be brimming over with Internet outlaws. A positive note: the future president might be prepared to announce an amnesty, to rid over-burdened French prisons of all these inoffensive orange-eating electronic outlaws.

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