Wednesday, April 16, 2008

France Could Outlaw "Skinny" Online

Paris, a fashion capitol of the World, is working in legislation to outlaw Web sites that promote eating disorders. The bill, approved by the lower house of Parliament, faces a Senate vote.

If passed, this bill could affect all mediums of communication, not just the Web. Punishments may be up to three years in prison and more than $70,000 in fines for and media promoting anorexia or bulimia. 

The legislation is backed by the government’s health minister, Roselyne Bachelot. The legislation was sponsored by Valérie Boyer, a conservative lawmaker from the Bouches-du-Rhône region in the south of France

“We have noticed,” Ms. Boyer said in an interview with The Associated Press, “that the sociocultural and media environment seems to favor the emergence of troubled nutritional behavior, and that is why I think it necessary to act.”

It is one of the strongest measures proposed since the 2006 death of a Brazilian model, Ana Carolina Reston, from anorexia.

Critics from the French Socialist Party complained that the bill was vaguely worded and rushed through the lower house by the U.M.P., the conservative party of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Eating disorder experts also expressed doubts about whether such a law would help victims or create even more demand for the sites by publicizing them.As written, the proposed French law does not make it clear who would be ultimately responsible for the content of such sites — the content creator or the Internet service hosting the site.