France Highest Court Partially Invalidates “disproportionate” Hate Speech Law
Internet Without Borders welcomes with relief the Constitutional Council’s decision of June 18, 2020, which partially invalidates the Law against hateful content on the Internet, known as the “Loi Avia”.
According to the highest French court, the obligation for digital platforms to delete within 24 hours content that is “manifestly illegal”, with 250,000 Euros fine in case of non compliance, without the oversight of a judge, “undermines the exercise of freedom of expression and communication in a way that is not necessary, appropriate and proportionate.”
Campaign since 2019
In 2019, Human Rights organizations, including Internet Sans Frontières, Renaissance Numérique, or the Conseil National du Numérique, denounced the dangers of this law. We noted that the vague definition of “hate”, the rapid reaction required of platforms, and the threats posed by financial sanctions, provided by the article 1 of the law, did not respect the requirements of proportionality, and necessity in a democratic society.
Inspiration for future regulation
According to Jennyfer Chrétien, Executive Director of Renaissance Numérique, one of the organizations mobilized against this law, the Constitutional Council has reminded essential principles of fundamental rights:
“This decision confirms that the regulation of online expression should not be a closed dialogue between governments and companies. Civil society must be part of the equation, because the risk of arbitrariness is high“, said Julie Owono, Executive Director of Internet Without Borders.
Internet Without Borders believes that the decision of France’s Constitutional Council should serve as an inspiration to any Governments that want to fight hate on the Internet, with laws firmly anchored in respect for fundamental rights.