Imminent adoption of the new French “Digital Republic” Bill

Written on 22 Sep 2016

The “Digital
Republic” Bill has been introduced in France in order better to meet the
challenges already posed by the digital transformation of the society. The Bill
pursues three objectives:

1.     The
first objective relates to the free flow of knowledge and data. The Bill
establishes an information sharing policy by the implementation of:

  • The principle of neutrality of the Internet. Internet operators will not be able to
    discriminate over access to the network. In essence, operators will not be able
    to provide a higher Internet speed to some clients and a slower to others.   
  • The principle of loyalty and transparency of
    digital platforms.
    Digital
    platforms such as search engines or commercial websites are obliged to deliver
    reliable, clear and transparent information about their classifying and
    referencing measures in relation to the content or services to which give
    access. This will encompass not only intermediation platforms (as it is
    currently the case under article L.111-5-1 of the FCC) but also operators that
    offer online communication services, based on rankings using algorithms, for contents,
    goods or services proposed or made available online by third-parties.
  • Better consumer information about online
    reviews.
    Consumer review
    websites will have to disclose to consumers the methodology of verifying online
    reviews.
  • Open access to public data. Public bodies will have to publish their
    databases on the Internet. 
     

2.     The
second objective relates to citizen rights and protection of personal data.
Several new rights are enshrined: 

  • The right to oblivion for minors. Data collected from minors will have to be
    erased by data controllers when requested by the individual whose data was collected
    when, for example, it would affect his ability to find a job. An accelerated
    procedure is provided.
  • The possibility for a deceased data subject to
    leave instructions
    before his death to a third party regarding the
    archiving and erasure of his personal data.
  • The confidentiality of private correspondence
    is reinforced. Emails will no longer be subject to analysis from email services,
    except to detect spam and computing virus.
  • An obligation
    to
    inform the data subject of the data
    retention period
    .
  • Data portability. Email and other online communication service
    providers will now have to offer account and data portability. These rights are
    broader than the equivalent provisions of the General Data Protection
    Regulation, because the Bill does not limit the portability requirements to
    personal data.

The
powers of the CNIL are expanded by the “Digital Republic” Bill. The
CNIL will be able to impose monetary sanctions on a data controller of up to 3
million euros or 4% of its worldwide turnover.

3.   The third and last objective of the
“Digital Republic” Bill is the recognition of the principle of
“Internet for all” with:

  • The right
    to maintain an Internet access for individuals who cannot afford it.
  • A
    guaranteed access to Internet and to telephone services for disabled persons.

The
vote on the final text took place at the National Assembly on 20 July 2016 and
will be voted at the Senate on 27 September 2016. The promulgation is scheduled
for early October 2016.