The Digital Republic Act dated 7 October 2016 placed on online platforms an obligation of fairness towards consumers by obliging them notably to disclose to the users their methods of listing, ranking and delisting online offerings. Secondary legislation specifying the exact extent of such obligation has just been adopted, on 29 September 2017.
Who does this apply to?
Digital platforms offering the following services search engines, marketplaces, comparison of products and services but also social networks or sharing economy service providers.
What does the legislation require?
Digital platforms must provide in French in a specific section accessible directly from all the pages of their websites the following information:
- the referencing and dereferencing conditions;
- the applicable default classification criteria; and
- if applicable, the existence of stake-holdings or of any remuneration if they influence the referencing or classification of the concerned content.
In addition, digital platforms will have the obligation to disclose:
- next to the offer or to the content, if its position has been influenced by the existence of a contractual relationship, of stake-holdings or of any remuneration (including advertising fees); and
- on each results page, the criteria used for the classification.
Marketplaces, social networks or sharing economy actors will also have to disclose the following information in French in a specific section accessible (without the need to connect to one’s account) directly from all the pages of the website:
- the quality of the persons that are authorised to post an offer and in particular if they are businesses or consumers;
- the description of the intermediation service;
- the price of the service as well as any additional services that must be paid by a consumer;
- the payment means;
- the existence of insurances and guarantees offered by the platform; and
- the existence of dispute resolution solutions.
And more specifically, platforms that connect businesses and consumers will also need to disclose:
- the identity of the offeror (business or consumer);
- and if the offeror is a consumer:
- the sanctions that he/she could face if he/she is in reality a business; and
- for each post :
- the total price (including fees to be paid to the platform);
- the existence/absence of a withdrawal right;
- the absence of statutory warranties;
- a link to the civil code articles relating to contractual liability.
Why does this matter?
Failure to provide for the required information will be punishable by fines up to EUR 375,000 for legal entities. In addition, the authorities will have the power to name and shame the non-compliant platforms.
When does this come into force?
These requirements come into force on 1 January 2018