- Macron, a few months before the presidential elections in France, announces the creation of a legal framework at the EU level to fight online disinformation and foreign propaganda
- In the 2017 election, Macron was attacked by Russian-backed hackers, and recently his wife, Brigitte, became the target of a transgender campaign
- The president proposed a system of “self-regulation”, based on peer-review, in which the press industry would indicate “credible media”
- Macron: we are a sometimes naive democracy today and allow propagandists financed by authoritarian foreign regimes to inform and participate in the debate as journalists
- Macron announced laws to ensure fair remuneration for journalists’ copyrights and related rights
Original article on POLITICO.eu website
– Online platforms, influencers and citizens, who sometimes occupy a prominent place in the public debate precisely through these new platforms, must have a framework of accountability that is yet to be built – he said during a traditional New Year’s speech to representatives of national media.
“The same must apply to foreign media authorized to broadcast on French territory,” added the president, making a clear allusion to Russian media such as Sputnik and RT.
Macron’s statement is based on the conclusions of a report presented to him on Tuesday that provides guidelines to fight disinformation and conspiracy theories online. At the end of September, he commissioned a group of scientists, sociologists, professors, journalists and historians to work on the issue as part of a committee called “Enlightenment in the digital age”, which is a reference to the French philosophical trend of the 18th century.
The president said that reflection on how to fight fake news while protecting reliable information and credible media should take place at the EU level and go beyond national election calendars.
The speech comes at a crucial moment for Macron, just months before the April presidential election in which he is expected to run for re-election, and in the face of tense press relations.
In 2017, Macron’s campaign was attacked by Russian-backed hackers, and just a few weeks ago, his wife, First Lady Brigitte Macron, became the target of a conspiracy theory falsely claiming to be transgender.
The media has to self-regulate
While Macron’s La République En Marche party, public authorities and politicians are gearing up for an election campaign in which a lot of disinformation is to be expected, the French president has suggested a new approach to foreign media, supporting a similar peer-review system of “self-regulation” in which it is the press industry that would indicate “credible media”.
– I say it here very seriously: we are a sometimes naive democracy today. We allow propaganda players, financed by foreign authoritarian regimes, which do not respond in any way to the principles of responsibility or journalistic ethics, to inform and participate in the debate as journalists, he said.
In recent years, the French president has usually used the annual press speech to introduce new media and information laws. This year, however, he has too little time before the elections to ensure that the new rules do materialize, but in his speech he hinted at potential future rules should he be re-elected.
“On the issue of algorithms, we will need debates together and no doubt regulation,” said Macron. He added that researchers should have greater access to the “data and algorithms” of online platforms, which is likely to become a reality thanks to the EU’s Digital Services Act, the rules for content moderation, which is currently under discussion in Brussels and is one of France’s priorities during its presidency in the Council of the EU.
Macron also promised the media that he would target Big Tech again if they refused to pay for the news.
Hitting Google, the French president said Paris would ensure that the EU’s copyright reform, which provides press publishers with so-called related rights, it is actually effective and will not hesitate to do more.
“We will supplement, if necessary, our French and European rules to achieve the goal that has been and remains our goal: fair remuneration for copyright and related rights,” he said.
Editing: Michał Broniatowski