Hate-Speech Law stricken down in France comes back at EU level

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On the 25th of June, one week after the Hate-Speech Law had been stricken down by the French Constitutionnal Court, our government asked the European Commission to get this defunct project adopted at the EU level.

Against “hate-speech”

French government requires new European rules that would “force platforms to promptly remove manifestly unlawful content” through “best-effort obligations supervised by an independent authority which would define binding recommendations and punish breaches1All quotes are translated by us from French.. This would lead to the exact same things provided by the defunct Hate Speech Law: 24h deadline and full powers given to an administrative authority (the CSA in France, usually in charge of regulating television content). These new rules would require the censorship of “not only unlawful content, but also other type of content, like harmful but not unlawful content […] for example pornographic content [or] misinformation“.

These requests where made during the open consultation on the Digital Service Act, as this text may give our government a chance to impose at the EU level measures that could not be imposed at national level. But the Hate-Speech Law was not just about mere hate-speech, and some of its most dangerous measures are about to be adopted at the EU level – way before the Digital Service Act.

Against “terrorism”

Aside from hate-speech, the defunct Hate-Speech Law was aiming at another type of censorship: it gave power to the police to censor in one hour any content that it regards as being terrorism-related, without any prior judicial supervision. There was a huge risk that such powers could lead to political censorship of opponents and, as such, the French Constitutionnal Court did not hesitate to strike down this measure last June. Again, if President Macron could not impose this kind of power overreach in France, he will try to do it with the EU. And he is doing that with much more eagerness than his struggle agasint mere “hate speech”.

For two years now, our governement has been pushing for a regulation on “terrorist content”, to force a one-hour removal, without judicial supervision, everywhere in Europe. However, this idea is being widely challenged in Europe, and as a result, the text has been trapped in negotiations between the EU Parliament and Member States for months. But now, after its defeat in front of the French Conseil Constitutionnel, the French government is back: they have just one move left to impose their censorship on the French and EU Web

We will oppose this maneuvre as we already did, successfully in France, and as many times needed.

References

1 All quotes are translated by us from French.