French Senate to vote on controversial Digital Economy Law

By EDRi · April 7, 2004

On 8 April the French Senate will vote about a controversial new law to translate the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC). The law known as LEN (‘Loi sur la confiance dans l’economie numerique’), has been heavily opposed by EDRI-member IRIS, Reporters without Borders, several trade unions, internet user groups and the association of internet providers for undermining the rights of internet users and introducing private justice by internet providers.

On 8 January the National Assembly adopted the draft-law, introducing a notice and take down procedure for internet content and a general obligation on hosting providers to monitor the content of their customers. Such a measure is explicitly forbidden by the E-Commerce Directive. Currently, hosting providers can only be held liable for illegal content they host if they don’t comply with a judicial injunction to remove the content.

If the Senate doesn’t change the LEN, internet users will be able to demand the immediate withdrawal of content they consider unlawful. Website hosts will be forced to censor any content likely to be deemed unlawful for fear of being found criminally liable, with penalties of up to a year in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros for the manager of a service provider.

The LEN’s advocates argue that website hosts would be protected by a clause in the bill making improper accusations of illegality punishable by a year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euro.

Many actions have already been undertaken by LEN opponents. EDRI-member IRIS launched a petition that has been signed by 13.461 individuals and 266 organisations.

IRIS petition

French draft law obliges providers to monitor content (15.01.2004)