Anti-“fake news” bill gives French state unchecked Internet censorship powers

by Alex Lantier, WSWS


On Thursday, the National Assembly began debating French President Emmanuel Macron’s draconian bill empowering the state to censor the Internet during the three months prior to any national election. The bill marks a vast new attack on freedom of speech, amid a wave of threats to Internet freedom worldwide based on the pretext of fighting “fake news.”

The bill would allow candidates and political parties to take articles and Internet statements to court, where judges could force Internet service providers to censor material by declaring that they believed it to be “fake news.” Due to the French president’s broad powers to name and control the promotion of top magistrates, the French judiciary is widely acknowledged to be dependent on the executive. The bill thus places enormous power over the Internet in the hands of the president.

The bill defines “fake news” not as information that is false, but as “any allegation or implying of a fact without providing verifiable information that makes it plausible.”

This anti-democratic definition poses vast dangers to legitimate journalism and political activity by removing any obligation on the state to prove that a statement is, in fact, false and harmful before taking legal action to suppress it. It lets judges order that legally protected speech be censored simply by asserting that they personally do not believe it to be convincing. It also allows judges to censor any article based on confidential sources such as whistleblowers on the grounds that the information contained in the article is not “verifiable.”

The bill grants the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA) powers to censor and suspend television stations that are “controlled by a foreign state or under its influence.” This paves the way for the banning of media outlets such as the Russian state-backed RT and Sputnik…

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2 Responses

  1. […] via Anti-“fake news” bill gives French state unchecked Internet censorship powers — American Every… […]

  2. Typical state move–any state, anywhere in the world.

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