Computer and shadow of hand

Combating the manipulation of information

The law against the manipulation of information, which aims to better protect democracy against the different ways in which fake news is deliberately spread, was approved in its second reading at the National Assembly on 20 November 2018.
 

WHAT DOES THIS INVOLVE?



The text targets the widespread and extremely rapid dissemination of fake news by means of digital tools, in particular through the dissemination channels offered by social networks and media outlets influenced by foreign states.

Particular attention is given to election campaigns, just before and during elections, to concentrate available tools on the real danger, namely attempts to influence election results (as was seen during the last American presidential elections and the Brexit campaign). The following measures are stipulated for these campaign periods:

  • a transparency obligation for digital platforms, who must report any sponsored content by publishing the name of the author and the amount paid. Platforms exceeding a certain number of hits a day must have a legal representative in France and publish their algorithms.
  • the creation of a legal injunction allowing the circulation of fake news to be swiftly halted. An interim judge will qualify the "fake news", as defined in the 1881 law on the freedom of the press, in accordance with three criteria:
- the fake news must be manifest,
- be disseminated deliberately on a massive scale,
- and lead to a disturbance of the peace or compromise the outcome of an election.
 

Between elections, the text establishes a duty of cooperation for these platforms, to force them to introduce measures to combat fake news and make these measures public. Checking for compliance with this duty has been entrusted to the CSA (French Broadcasting Authority), which will also be able to prevent, suspend and stop the broadcasts of television services that are controlled by foreign states or are influenced by these states, and which are detrimental to the country’s fundamental interests.

The text is aimed at deliberate attempts to manipulate information and will have no impact on journalistic work which may, at any time, reveal information on matters of public interest.

It establishes a more protective legal framework than a situation which is not governed by law, where platforms censor content themselves – without even being required to explain the criteria for this censorship.

Press ethics

At a time when content abounds, greater distinction must be made between professional reporting, which adheres to exacting journalistic standards, and other types of informational content. The issue is just as pressing with regard to the printed press, its digital formats, audiovisual media and exclusively digital media.

Within the context of the bill’s second reading, a mission was entrusted to Emmanuel Hoog, former President of the AFP (French Press Agency). The purpose of the mission is to produce a workable proposal for a press ethics body bringing together journalists, publishers and representatives of civil society – a proposal which could be translated into a legislative or regulatory text.
 


WHY?



To tackle the new threat to democracy posed by the dissemination of fake news, the British Parliament set up a Board of Inquiry; Germany’s Parliament passed legislation; the Italian authorities created a platform for reporting fake news items. France could not afford to sit still.

 

ACTION TAKEN


20 December 2018: the Constitutional Council validates the law and defines its scope

20 November 2018: final adoption of the law by the National Assembly

6 November 2018: motion by the Senate opposing the preliminary question

9 October 2018: adoption of the bill at its second reading, with amendments, by the National Assembly

26 July 2018: motion by the Senate opposing the preliminary question

3 July 2018: adoption of the bill at its first reading, with amendments, by the National Assembly

26 March 2018: accelerated procedure initiated by the Government

16 March 2018: the bill is introduced in the National Assembly


Fake news: a bill to combat the manipulation of information

A private members' bill to combat the manipulation of information is to be presented in open session at the National Assembly on 7... [Read more]
7 June 2018

 

Back to Actions