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I have many Wi-Fi networks located in France and got quite concerned reading that an 18-year-old man from Dijon (France) was convicted for "praising terrorism" and was given a suspended sentence of three months in prison because the SSID of his Wi-Fi network was "Daesh 21."

What Wi-FI SSID names are forbidden in France? Ideally I would like to have an exhaustive list to ensure none of my Wi-Fi networks sends me to jail.

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The law does not say. It is up to the judgment of the judge to determine what constitutes "Le fait de provoquer directement à des actes de terrorisme ou de faire publiquement l'apologie de ces actes". I would not have predicted that the act constituted "faire publiquement l'apologie", but if that expression can reasonably construed as meaning "indicating approval of", then I understand the conclusion. The law does not mention SSIDs, that simply falls under the penumbra of "publicly approving of terrorism", and there isn't a specific list of forbidden acts. Analogously, Holocaust denial is against the law in France, and there is not a specific list of things that you can't say, there is a general rule from which specifics can be inferred. Publicly saying "Free Kurdistan!" could be construed as supporting PKK and thus approving of terrorism, but that would be quite a stretch. Using the SSID Pkk21, on the other hand, could be a problem.

  • Thanks. That's going to be challenging to code the part of my program that generates the Wi-Fi network names. – Franck Dernoncourt Nov 6 '16 at 5:55
  • not really that hard to code, either pick random characters or use a dictionary of "nice" words, If you could show that the it was a random pick of characters that picked PKK21 as the SSID you are a lot less likely (but still not a 0%) of actually getting prosecuted because you can show that you were not supporting terrorism, you just picked 5 random characters. – Topher Brink Nov 7 '16 at 10:22
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There is no such a list, and such a list can never exist for the simple reason it would made the intentions of such list void, namely the people who want to offend others would choose offending words that are not on that list...

The case you describe seems like a completely exaggerated interpretation of "praising terrorism" and, from the article you've linked:

The case could be further appealed in France or in European courts.

and honestly, I see no chance of that conviction to stand against such appeal if the name of the WiFi was the only reason for conviction.

  • A WiFi SSID is transmitted around your network, and displayed on the computers of your neighbours. – gnasher729 Nov 10 '16 at 9:45
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There are no laws that make any SSID names illegal per se. There are other laws that make certain actions illegal, like "praising terrorism" apparently. That's all the law that's needed; there are no specific laws to make all the gazillions of possible ways to "praise terrorism", and they are not needed.

If you are worried that a randomly generated SSID would put you into jail, you should worry more that anything randomly generated could put you into jail. If you send out a design with "Lorem ipsum..." replaced with random text, that would be the same situation.

In reality, the crime is "praising terrorism". If you can demonstrate that you have 100 randomly generated SSIDs and 99 look random, then the intent is clearly not there, and you can't "praise terrorism" without intent. In addition, there's the question of odds. You may have carefully changed your code to avoid anything looking illegal. Then you step out of the door of your office. A lightning strikes but by coincidence you stumbled and were out of the way; then an elephant escaped from the zoo runs just over the spot where you've just been, and finally a meteor strikes and game over. What's more likely to happen?

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