Social networks and other online content providers will have to remove content related to paedophilia and terrorism from their platforms within an hour under a law voted in by France on Wednesday, and companies that fail to comply with the law could be fined up to 4 percent of their global revenue, Reuters reported.
Companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat will be required to remove other “clearly illegal” content within 24 hours. By law, France has established specialized digital prosecutors and government units in the courts to observe hate speech on the Internet.
French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told parliament that the law would help reduce hate speech online. “If people know there is a high probability of being held accountable, they will think twice before crossing the legal boundaries,” she said. “
Free speech advocates have criticized the new law. La Quadrature du Net (LQDN), an online civil liberties advocacy group, said in a statement that lawmakers should target the internet giant’s business model.
The group said it was unrealistic to believe that content could be withdrawn within an hour and that the law was not necessary. “If the site does not condemn the content (for example, because the complaint was sent on weekends or evenings), then the police can force internet service providers to block the site throughout France. “
Audrey Herblin-Stoop, Twitter’s head of public affairs in France, said the company would continue to work closely with the government to create a safer Internet to combat illegal hate speech while protecting open Internet, free speech and fair competition. Audrey said ensuring public debate was a top priority, adding that Twitter’s investment in hate speech signal technology would reduce the burden on users to shout out illegal content.
Marine Le Pen, president of France’s far-right National Front, said the law was a “grave violation of freedom of expression.”
Facebook did not respond to requests for comment, and Google and Snapchat were not immediately available for comment.