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France: Proposed Bill Would Require Removal of Unlawful Online Content within a Day

Firm News / Jun 01, 2020

Article written by Haim Ravia, Dotan Hammer and Adi Shoval

Newly proposed French bill would require operators of online platforms to remove content manifestly illegal content within 24 hours. The bill defines such removable content as any content that condones crimes against humanity, incites acts of terrorism, advocates such acts or incites hatred, violence or discrimination, or insults a person or group of persons on the grounds of origin, race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Violation of the bill is punishable with a penalty of up to 4% of the online operator’s global annual revenue.

The bill also requires online platforms to implement a directly accessible and uniform notification system for users located on French territory. The system will enable any person to notify of illegal content (in the user’s language) and inform the notifiers of the risks that they incur in the case of improper notification. It also requires online platforms to designate a legal representative on French territory to act as a contact person to receive notices of offensive content under the law and to implement means for timely removal of such content.

Removed content must be preserved for a maximum of one year to help to investigate, identify, and prosecute criminal offenses.

While the purpose of the law is to reduce hate-speech, opponents of the law claim it will adversely impact freedom of expression, as the short timescales for compliance will motivate online providers to remove content broadly just to avoid the hefty fines.

CLICK HERE to read the bill (translated to English by the French-American Bar Association).

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