The law requiring platforms to withdraw “terrorist” publications within an hour validated by the Constitutional Council

The Constitutional Council gave the green light, on Saturday August 13, to the proposed law La République en Marche (LRM) which requires all hosting service providers to withdraw within the hour the “terrorist content” on line.

The rue de Montpensier had been seized by deputies from La France insoumise (LFI) on this text, adopted at the end of July, which adapts a European regulation and partly takes up one of the flagship provisions of the Avia law. The latter had been widely challenged by the Constitutional Council in July 2020.

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Under the law validated on Saturday, the refusal to comply with the withdrawal of terrorist content is punishable by one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 250,000 euros. The financial penalty can, in extreme cases, be up to 4% of the digital platform’s turnover. The law validated on Saturday by the Constitutional Council also establishes the possibility for national authorities to issue cross-border withdrawal orders.

In their appeal, the LFI deputies considered that the text carried “a manifest violation of the freedom of expression and communication guaranteed by article 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789”. In its decision, the Constitutional Council considers that “the contested provisions do not violate the freedom of expression and communication” et “consequently finds them to be in conformity with the Constitution”.

Sufficient safeguards for the Constitutional Council

It emphasizes in particular that terrorist content “constitute abuses of the freedom of expression and communication which seriously undermine public order and the rights of third parties”. The withdrawal order must also “include not only the reference to the type of content concerned, but also a sufficiently detailed motivation”emphasizes the Council in its decision.

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The Central Office for the Fight against Crime Related to Information and Communication Technologies (OCLCTIC), a service of the judicial police, has been appointed to issue the withdrawal orders. A qualified personality from Arcom (Audiovisual and Digital Communication Regulatory Authority) can recommend the cancellation of a withdrawal injunction if he considers it unfounded, or even urgently take administrative action. Thereby, “determination of the terrorist nature of the content in question is not left to the sole discretion of the administrative authority”notes the Council.

Finally, the possibility for web hosts and publishers, who challenge a withdrawal injunction, to obtain a decision from the administrative court within 72 hours and within a month in the event of an appeal, constitutes, in the eyes of the Elders, ” promptly “.

The World with AFP

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