Photo: Sergey Zolkin via Unsplash
The French Parliament will start debating a bill on online hate speech and harassment tomorrow (3 July) that could see tech companies clamp down on homophobia.
Some députés, members of the lower house, argue that the law needs to catch-up with tech platforms as countries across the world grapple with what is acceptable to post online.
President Emmanuel Macron announced the bill in February, one that LGBTI groups have welcomed.
What would the new legislation do?
Partly inspired by a similar bill in Germany and one comparable to one recently debated in the UK, the measure would force tech platforms to crack down on hate speech more quickly.
According to the bill, social media websites would need to make reporting messages and posts more clearly displayed.
Moreover, if users do flag up content, moderators would have 24 hours to analzse and, if decided, remove the problematic post.
Homophobia would not be tolerated, in other words. With the scope of the measure also including race, gender, nationality, and disability. Posts tied to propaganda is also in the bill’s purview.
Finally, if platforms refused to remove such content, courts could enforce fines of up to €1.24 million [US$1,402,061.80].
If the violations and fines pile-up, it would prompt France’s media watchdog to impose fines of up to four percent of the company’s global revenue.
The lower house of the French Parliament, the Assemblée Nationale, will debate the bill tomorrow.
Why is France debating this bill?
In an op-ed published in Le Monde this month, a group of government ministers said that social networks had created a ‘new horizon for socializing and exchanging.’
However, they had also shown humanity’s ‘darkest sides.’
Both online and offline, France has plummeted across LGBTI-friendliness rankings. In fact, it dropped from sixth to 17th in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2019.
Furthermore, the year before, some critics called it the ‘darkest year ever’ for anti-LGBTI attacks. Casting a speter of violence over the European country.