France has announced that it will pass legislation regulating online platforms as quickly as possible. It has decided to enact legislation on the same lines as suggested by the European Union (EU) recently. But some amendments have also been proposed in that. The EU has introduced a contract for the Digital Services Act. It is now clear that France is not in the mood to wait for a consensus across Europe on this matter. Before the Digital Service Act was enacted for the entire EU, France has taken the initiative to enact its own legislation.
France’s Digital Deputy Minister Cedric O said in the past that France will make laws according to its republican principles. He said that it is necessary to fight hate speech. France intends to make some amendments to the proposed Digital Service Act of the EU. It wants to make a provision that makes it mandatory for online companies to have more transparency in content monitoring matters. The main concern of France is to combat radical Islam. France’s bill has already been discussed in the National Assembly. It is likely that it will be passed in the coming months. It may take several years for the passage of EU legislation.
The main emphasis in the French proposal is on fixing the responsibility of surveillance. It seeks to make a clear provision as to how and how the content should be monitored and how much transparency is required by companies in this matter. France wants to take on greater responsibility of the largest companies. It wants to make provisions that impose a penalty of up to six per cent of the global revenue of the company concerned for violating the rules. Initiatives have also been taken to define which companies will be considered as big platforms. France hopes that by December 2023 the EU law will also come into force in this entire region. But until this happens, France’s own law will remain in force there.
The EU has said that the amendments France wants to make should be reported to the EU executive body. The EU spokesman said that these institutions would see if the French law was in line with the EU’s proposed law. But France has not yet informed the EU of its proposed amendments. Some EU officials have told the media that France has done this trick because it wants to make its model law for the entire EU.
However, France is not the only country, which is taking steps ahead of the proposals of the EU in this matter. Governments of many other countries are also taking initiative to make laws in their country according to their political objectives. Poland’s government last week issued a contract for its law. It provides that platforms such as Google or Facebook cannot remove content that does not violate any law of Poland. Austria is also moving towards enacting its own law to stop online hate speech. There is a provision to remove more types of content than is generally done by online companies.
On the other hand, a law was passed in Germany last week, which has given the authorities considerable powers to intervene in the digital market. Such a provision is also in the EU law, but Germany has not waited till its law is made. Apart from this, the publishing industry of different countries is demanding that different countries should get complete freedom in terms of regulating online companies. The publishing industry wants to rein in these companies as soon as possible, as they are causing economic losses.
But this development has highlighted the weakness of the EU. It has also indicated that different countries are no longer caring about taking common steps. They are increasingly taking steps to protect their interests.