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article imageTowards obligatory comment control in the French press ?

By Michael Cosgrove     Jun 21, 2009 in Internet
The French government is considering legislation to oblige all online versions of the French press to moderate comments submitted to their Internet sites in the context of a clause contained in a new law on Internet practices and abuse.
The French Parliament recently voted a new and highly controversial law concerning the Internet. Called “The Hadopi Law,” it mainly concerns ways of combating the illegal downloading of music, images and films.
But there are various other clauses contained in it, and yet another one, which would relate to the functions of a newly created body called ‘Les Etats Généraux de la Presse,” which is a collaborative organism whose job it is to liaise between press organisations and the government, is said to be in the works.
The envisaged clause would permit the government to create a new statute, that of online Press Editor, for news sites, and the government is considering the option of forcing the online press to re-read and moderate comments before publishing them. Other editorial responsibilities may also be created, depending on the final version of the clause.
As things are, and much like in the rest of the Western world, some sites moderate before publishing, some after, some not at all.
Any new law would need the approbation of both the President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French Minister for Communications and Culture, Christine Albanel.
The cat was let out of the bag by Emmanuel Parody, a specialist on the Internet versions of the press, in a twitter he diffused, and the article it provoked in L'express.
His information was initially denied Bruno Patino, the Head of the Internet section of the Etats Généraux de la presse, who said “That’s not what was decided upon.”
However, Christine Albanel’s cabinet representatives were not so categorical in their denial.
A spokesperson, responding to questions on the clause, answered “That idea is being floated, but we still have to discuss it with those implicated.”
It is a safe bet that the French press will be following this story assiduously.
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