France to force tech giants to remove harmful content within the hour
Social media companies will be forced to remove the most harmful content from their platforms within an hour or face hefty fines under new French laws passed today.
Firms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter could be fined up to four per cent of their global revenue if they fail to comply with the new legislation, which will apple to paedophile and terrorism-related content.
For other “manifestly illicit” material the sites will be given 24 hours to remove it.
The law will also establish a specialised digital prosecutor at the courts and a new government unit to monitor hate speech online.
Justice minister Nicole Belloubet told parliament the move would help authorities to crack down on hate speech posted on online platforms.
“People will think twice before crossing the red line if they know that there is a high likelihood that they will be held to account,” she said.
The new law marks a major step forward in global efforts to clamp down on so-called harmful material posted to online forums.
The UK has set out plans for new regulation that will place a legal duty of care on tech firms to protect their users.
The government has said it is minded to appoint a beefed-up Ofcom as the country’s first ever internet regulator, with powers to issue fines or take legal action if firms fall foul of the law.
But the tightening of regulation has sparked a backlash amid concerns about freedom of speech.
Marine le Pen, president of France’s far-right National Rally party, described the new legislation as a “serious violation of the freedom of expression”.
Ofcom has previously said that concerns about censorship and a limiting of free speech were “unfounded”.