Freedom of expression was enshrined in a solemn proclamation during the Revolution. The Declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen of August 26, 1789 affirms in its article 11: “The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man; any citizen can therefore speak, write, print freely, except to answer for the abuse of this freedom in the cases determined by the law. “
This Declaration has constitutional value and the Constitutional Council has recognized that the freedom thus defined is “a fundamental freedom all the more precious as its exercise is an essential guarantee of other rights and freedoms and of national sovereignty, recalling that this right has for main purpose that for everyone to receive a free expression “(Constitutional Council 10-11 October 1984)
The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed on November 4, 1950 sets out its article 10,
” 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes freedom of opinion and the freedom to receive or impart information or ideas without interference by public authority and without consideration border. […]
“2. The exercise of these freedoms involving duties and responsibilities may be subject to certain formalities, conditions, restrictions or sanctions, provided for by law, which constitute measures necessary, in a democratic society, for national security, territorial integrity or public safety, the defense of order and crime prevention, the protection of health or morals, the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, to prevent disclosure of confidential information or to guarantee the authority and impartiality of the judiciary. “
This convention, of direct application, has been ratified by France.