WITH THE ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE SO-CALLED “FRENCH DSA” BILL, ONLINE PLATFORMS ARE REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH A NEW SET OF OBLIGATIONS TO COMBAT HATEFUL CONTENT, “WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE ESTABLISHED ON THE FRENCH TERRITORY”
26 January 2022
The Law No. 2021-1109 of 24 August 2021 “comforting the respect with the principles of the Republic
(so-called “French DSA”) introduced into the Law for Trust in the Digital Economy of 21 June 2004 (i.e.
the French transposition of the E-Commerce Directive) a new Article 6-4 imposing new obligations of
means and transparency on operators of online platforms with regard to the moderation of hateful
and illegal content. The bill entrusts the French regulator for audiovisual media services (recently
rebranded ARCOM) with the task of monitoring and enforcing the implementation of these
obligations. Although Article 6-4 came into force on August 26, 2021, its effective application was
suspended until the recent adoption of its implementing decree No 2022-32 of 14 January 2022, which
came into force the day after its publication in the Official Journal (i.e on 17 January 2022).
From the outset, it can be noted that the French DSA tends to pre-empts the ongoing work of the
European Union on the Digital Services Act (DSA) and explicitly provides that online platform
operators shall comply with the new legal framework “whether or not they are established in French
territory”. In order to avoid fragmentation between EU and national law, the French bill specifies that
its provisions will only be applicable until December 31, 2023.
The new obligations apply to “online platform operators” defined in Article L. 111-7 of the French
Consumer Code as operators who offer an online public communication service based on the
classification, referencing, or sharing of content posted online (e.g., social networks, video sharing
platforms or search engines).
Article 6-4-I specifies the obligations applicable to platforms whose activity exceeds a first threshold,
set by the implementing decree at 10 million unique visitors per month from the French territory (e.g.
enhanced cooperation with the public authorities, point of contact, notice and action, trusted flaggers,
transparency), while article 6-4-II sets out the obligations for the “largest platforms”, i.e., platforms
whose activity exceeds a second threshold set at 15 million visitors per month (e.g. assessment of
systemic risks and implementation of mitigation measures).
The ARCOM is expected to open a consultation in the first quarter of 2022 for the development of
guidelines that should clarify the obligations provided for in Article 6-4