France: Proposed law to limit easy access to illegal online content

The law, first presented on May 10, seeks to create a safer online environment for all walks of society, from cyberbullying to reducing reliance on American tech companies.

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In a recent development, French lawmakers have come together to endorse a comprehensive text to enhance security and oversight within the digital realm. The proposed law, which a legislative committee passed on September 21, seeks to render illicit online activities more challenging to access while also imposing penalties for those engaging in such behaviour. This move reflects France’s commitment to fostering a safer and more regulated online environment, per their 2016 law ‘Pour une République numérique‘.

Even with the proposed legislation, individuals will still have the option to employ anonymisation tools, such as VPNs, for private and unrestricted online browsing. However, it’s essential to note that the bill is primarily designed to serve as a ‘combat bill’ against unlawful activities in the digital realm.

The law, supported by the presidential coalition party, Ensemble Citoyens, will tackle scams, illegal access to pornography, cyberbullying, online hate, and illegal websites. In addition, the measure will reduce dependency on American tech companies by empowering French businesses to transition to a different cloud provider at a reduced fee.

Why does it matter?

France has been trying to tackle illegal online content and cyberattacks for a while, even forbidding their civil servants from using social media due to safety concerns. A French report by Arcom, which studied 13 digital platforms, highlighted the importance of increasing platform accountability and transparency and included the likes of American giants Google and Meta. This push, paired with the recent implementation of the DSA, could take concrete steps towards curtailing illegal activity online.