The law against “fake news” validated by the Constitutional Council

On 20 December, the Constitutional Council validated the bill against false information.

Nevertheless, on this occasion, it has issued several interpretative reservations that will be binding at all jurisdictions and, which we agree, risk making it even more complex, than it already is, this weapon against infox “.

The law of false information has passed the course of the Constitutional Council, the text of the law against “Fake news” is now ready for publication in the Official Journal.

This vehicle which was, according to our information, prepared at the Ministry of Culture, but it was taken in hand by the parliamentarians as part of a bill which left a trail in passing.

For the record, the legislator wanted to impose new transparency obligations on platform operators on ” information content related to a debate of general interest”, as soon as a major election approaches be it presidential, legislative, European, etc.

Remember that procedures to stop the distribution of content are particularly affected. Indeed, the text provided for a summary within 48 hours to the judges and the court of appeal. The wise men have, for their part, said that these could only touch content ” which is possible to demonstrate the falsity of in an objective way”.

In other words; “opinions”, “parodies”, “partial inaccuracies” or “simple exaggerations” cannot be touched.

In addition, the prohibition to broadcast content may only be justified “if its inexact or deceptive in nature”. “The same is true for the risk of altering the sincerity of the ballot, which must also be evident,” he adds, without specifying on what concrete elements judges can rely to determine the obvious misrepresentation, deception or risk of an alteration of the sincerity of the ballot.

The same limits will be applied to the Superior Audio-Visual Council. Indeed, the new law gives a body whose president is appointed by the Head of State, new abilities: it may suspend the broadcast of radio and television channels controlled by foreign states in France.

The Constitutional Council, which had been seized by senators and deputies, reminds us, however, that freedom of expression is of particular importance in political debates and in election campaigns.

The wise explain in a statement:

“It not only guarantees both the information of each and the defense of all opinions but also protects against the consequences of the abuses committed based on its ability to respond to and denounce them.”

The bill had met the opposition of the Senate, which had rejected both bills twice, but it was indeed the National Assembly that had the last word on November 20th.

Senators considered, indeed, that the law on the freedom of the press of 1881 was sufficient to regulate possible criminal practices with the implementation of sanctions for certain abuses such as defamation.

During the 3 months before the election, these intermediaries will have to reveal to the users “fair, clear and transparent information” on the identity of those who have paid to promote “information contents related to a debate of General interest “on their online services. An offense against these provisions will be punishable by one year in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros.