Since coronavirus takes its 27,000th sacrifice in France, the French parliament passed a new law that makes social networks remove a hateful and illegal content within 24 hours. Yesterday signed the law, the law «Lutte contre la haine sur internet» requires that digital platforms was removed discriminatory and sexually offensive comments within 24 hours after they were mentioned users.
At the same time, the network must remove content related to terrorism and child pornography within the hour markings. Failure to comply with the requirements of the law carries a fine of up to € 1.25 million.
This will be welcome news for the victims of online hate speech. However, the French law on social networks is a real threat to freedom of speech. Moreover, it seems that the French Government and the National Assembly have used the fear of misinformation coronavirus online to pass it.
Social Media In 2018 a very similar law was passed in Germany. Then it was expressed similar concerns about the freedom of speech and censorship. Critics have argued that German law, called the Law on the Protection of Rights on the network (NetzDG), puts too much responsibility for making the decision about what is legal. Freedom of speech to technology companies.
As is the case with German law, one of the drawbacks of the new French law is the lack of penalties, if social networks properly remove content that is subsequently found not to violate any laws or guidelines for the community. Taking into account the threat of fines for not removing the “hateful” content, it will almost inevitably mean that the legitimate freedom of expression is limited.
More seriously, perhaps, there is no objective or reliable way to find out how successful will be the law. In an article written about NetzDG in April last year, researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Amsterdam note in their article that the use of social media metrics that are reported in themselves, can be dangerous and misleading.
Given that the actual performance of the German law on social networks is still not proven, it is curious how and why the French Parliament passed a nearly identical law. However, finding one explanation is simple: the coronavirus.
More precisely, the anxiety about the coronavirus misinformation given to the French government the perfect incentive for the adoption of untested measures that are likely to reduce the freedom of speech and censorship will increase.
Correct: French journalists believe that the French government wants to attack and attack the “pluralism in terms of opinion.” In this light, the new French law on social networking becomes another part of this attack. Although at this time, due to concerns about a pandemic coronavirus and how misinformation on the Internet can put us in even greater danger, the French government has received more freedom of public opinion in the fight against digital freedom of expression.
In this regard also interesting to note that, as reported by CNN, the French law on social networking sites is the “first adopted by the lower house of France, which has no relation to the pandemic Covid-19 March.” In fact, the law was first introduced in March 2019, but since then, is in the background. However, even taking into account that now Facebook is taking steps to combat misinformation coronavirus, the French government and the parliament have clearly identified the perfect moment to restrict freedom of speech on the Internet.
That is how the law will work in France on social networks. Yes, this is likely to curb some cases of incitement to hatred. But under the guise of a problem with a coronavirus, its passage means that many of the legitimate freedom of speech will be censored.