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What the bill contains to “secure” the internet

Anti-scam filter, fight against cyberbullying or minors' access to porn: here are the main measures planned by the government to "secure and regulate" the internet.

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What the bill contains to “secure” the internet

Anti-scam filter, fight against cyberbullying or minors' access to porn: here are the main measures planned by the government to "secure and regulate" the internet.

The text, which also transcribes the new European regulations on digital technology into French law, must be presented to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, and begin its parliamentary journey before the summer with a debate in the Senate.

"Who has never received a text message trying to extort information from you to access your personal training account or health insurance?" Digital Minister Delegate Jean-Noël Barrot wants to implement Emmanuel Macron's promise of a free anti-scam filter sending a warning message to anyone who is about to go to a site identified as malicious.

"The most fragile, the furthest from digital are often the main victims of these hackers," laments the minister to AFP. The measure will go through the establishment of a list of these fraudulent sites and agreements with “internet access operators and web browser publishers”, he explained. “Remedies” will also be provided for removing a site from the list in the event of abuse. If the text is adopted, the government plans to deploy the project by the end of the year, which will be “gradually enriched before the Olympic Games” in Paris in the summer of 2024.

The European regulation on digital services (DSA) transcribed in the bill already includes measures aimed at stemming cyberbullying on major digital platforms, by forcing them to remove accounts reported to them. But the government wants to go further and accompany this measure with a penalty of banishment. Concretely, the judge may ask a social network to prevent for a period of six months, one year in the event of a repeat offence, the re-registration of a person already convicted of cyberbullying.

"We must put an end to the feeling of impunity online," explained Jean-Noël Barrot. “A minority of Internet users behave like arsonists and organize raids whose victims are very often women,” he continued. Even if it remains circumventable, banishment "will rob them of their sounding board, hit them where it hurts."

The government will entrust the Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication (Arcom) with the power to order, without the assistance of a judge, the blocking by telecom operators and the delisting of pornographic sites which do not prevent minors to access their content, explained the minister.

"It is provided in the text that Arcom publish guidelines" to define the contours of an age verification system which is currently lacking, said Jean-Noël Barrot. A technical experiment in this direction is also in progress. The government is thus taking up a measure proposed by four senators in a recent report on the excesses of this industry. Arcom agents may also be sworn in to find violations.

The text also gives Arcom the power to stop the broadcasting on the internet of media banned in the European Union. The measure particularly targets non-European streaming sites like Odysee or Rumble, which had broadcast the pro-Russian channels Russia Today and Sputnik despite their ban in the EU as part of the sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine. At the minister's request, Odysee had stopped broadcasting the channels and Rumble had closed its service to French Internet users.

More economical and "inspired by the work of parliamentarians", the government wants to allow companies to "change much more easily" infrastructure provider and IT services, also called cloud operators. The sector is dominated by American players AWS (subsidiary of Amazon), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. The text provides in particular for allowing “portability” of data between the services of these different companies and limits the use of “cloud credits”, free purchase vouchers today used by players to build customer loyalty.

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