Tech, Media and Comms

Commission notified of France's mandatory parental controls on internet devices

Published on 28th Oct 2022

The legislation makes further progress as France looks to protect minors and ease parental blocking of online access 

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As part of the implementation of France's new law strengthening parental control over internet access, its first implementing draft decree has been notified (14 October 2022) to the European Commission with slight amendments after it was put to a public consultation that closed on 6 October. Law no. 2022-300 of March 2, 2022 has been in force since 5 September (through the publication of the Decree no. 2022-1212 of September 2, 2022) but is not yet fully effective.

The proposed decree, which was first subject to the public consultation before the notification to the Commission, will also have to go through several stages of validation by France's data protection authority CNIL. The notification to the Commission states that the proposed decree will enter into force 12 months after its publication.

New implementing rules

What is to be expected from the proposed decree notified to the European Commission? This first decree will specify the procedures for issuing certification, as well as the functionalities and minimum characteristics to be met by parental control systems. 

It provides which information should be given to end users with respect to control systems and how. This information should ultimately include:

  • The essential characteristics and technical features of the control system, as well as an explanatory note on its configuration and operation.
  • Information on prevention of risks related to the exposure of minors to online public communication services, particularly in terms of addictive practices, online harassment or exposure to inappropriate content.
  • Informative content on prevention of risks related to overexposure or early exposure to screens.

The implementing decree will also specify the means of monitoring the application of this new legal scheme by the French National Frequency Agency, which may impose administrative fines up to €1500 for an individual and up to €7,500 for legal entities for failure to comply with the corrective requirements for the compliance of the device within a specific time period. Also, non-compliant terminals may be withdrawn from the market or recalled.

Notification amendments

The notified proposed decree provides more details regarding the functionalities of the parental control system.

In particular, the latter shall include the possibility of blocking the downloading of contents made available by software application stores and which access is legally prohibited to under 18s or which access is governed by provisions related to the age ratings of pornographic content or of content that may present a risk to young people because of the emphasis on crime, violence, incitement to the use, possession or trafficking of drugs for minors, incitement to excessive alcohol consumption and discrimination or discrimination towards a specific person or group of persons (Article 32 of Law No. 98-468 of 17 June 1998 on the prevention and repression of sexual offences and the protection of minors), or content included in a list established by the publisher of the content (under the Law No. 2004-575 of 21 June 2004 on confidence in the digital economy). 

It shall also include the possibility of blocking access to pre-installed content that is prohibited to minors or is governed under the same conditions or to content included in a list established by the publisher of the content. 

The possibility to measure the time of use of the equipment, to limit this time and to block purchases from the equipment, initially mentioned in the draft decree under public consultation, were removed from the list of functionalities provided in the proposed decree notified to the Commission.

Osborne Clarke comment

This is a new step in the protection of children against inappropriate content – violent or pornographic – online. The initiative is part of a more general legislative movement launched in recent years in France to protect minors online. Blocking access to pornographic content will now be easier for parents to implement.

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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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