Details of proposed new laws that put alcohol on the same level as pornography, and would effectively ban wine on the internet in France, were leaked to members of the press yesterday.

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The document, which suggests that wine and alcohol sites be authorised but limited to certain hours – similar to pornographic sites, has been described as ‘disastrous’ by members of the wine sector.

Furthermore, proposals offered by the government workgroup said that wine advertising could only be limited to producer websites, essentially blocking all third-party publicity.

‘The proposition forbids [wine] promotion on the web,’ said Delphine Blanc of Vin et Sociétié, one of few groups lobbying for the internet to be legalised as a medium for alcohol publicity. ‘It authorizes sites, during certain hours, and publicity on those sites, but forbids any [outside] publicity about those sites so they are dead.’

The workgroup, headed by public law specialist Professor Antoine Louvaris, says the proposals are aimed at protecting minors.

Blanc, however, said that it was inacceptable that a government-appointed group, of which Vin et Sociétié is a member, had met only once. The group is charged with drawing up new clauses pertaining to the strict Evin law of 1991 which regulates alcohol and tobacco advertising.

‘The text we have seen is not what we were hoping for,’ said Blanc.

Damien Bonnabel of blog and search engine site, Findawine.com, said the people involved in drawing up the law had little knowledge of the internet.

‘We are really very worried about these proposals,’ he said. ‘They suggest the people who are drafting them are totally ignorant about the realities of the web.’

Bonnabel also said the issue of legalising wine on the web was aggravated by the disorganised response of the wine sector – in contrast to the efficient anti-alcohol lobby.

Bonnabel has formed an association called Vin et Internet (Wine and Web) to protest against the proposed measure. The group is proposing alternative web laws, which include the prohibition of alcohol publicity on sports and youth-oriented sites.

The French government has refused to issue a statement, saying it ‘will not comment on a work in progress’.

Written by Sophie Kevany, and Oliver Styles