President Nicolas Sarkozy decreed it illegal to frequent Web sites that promote terrorism or hate, tech site CNET reported.
"From now on, any person who habitually consults Web sites that advocate terrorism or that call for hatred and violence will be criminally punished. France will not tolerate forced recruitment or ideological indoctrination on its soil," Sarkozy said in a televised address, CNET cited a Reuters report as saying.
The move came after a 32-hour standoff between a French SWAT team and Mohamed Merah, 23, who was wanted for killing three French paratroopers, three Jewish schoolchildren, and a rabbi.
Merah, who was killed in a firefight, had reportedly claimed to be affiliated with the Al-Qaeda, terrorist network.
However, CNET also noted it was not immediately clear whether Merah frequented terrorism or hate-focused Web sites.
But the French government's policy met criticism from some anti-censorship groups, who said Sarkozy may have gone too far with his announcement.
One such group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said users can still anonymize themselves or access Web sites from different locations to avoid being caught.
"There's no guarantee that criminalizing access to hate speech or terrorist content will end the very real problems of hate crime and terrorism. Extremist violence didn't start with the Internet and it won't end with it, either," EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian York said.
It was not the first accusation of censorship Sarkozy has received.
France had been Reporters Without Borders' surveillance list for "Enemies of the Internet" for the second straight year but Sarkozy was also blamed last month for censoring Twitter users who were either critical or made fun of him. — TJD, GMA News