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25.06.2019 Europe

Facebook to collaborate with French government on hate speech cases

Yoan Valat/Pool via REUTERS
LISTEN JUN 25, 2019
Yoan Valat/Pool via REUTERS

Facebook says it will hand over data from French users suspected of hate speech to French judges – a world first, according to French Minister for digital affairs Cedric O.

"This is huge news, it means that the judicial process will be able to run normally," O, a former top adviser to President Emmanuel Macron, told Reuters. "It's really very important, they're only doing it for France."

The agreement between Facebook and the French government stemmed from talks that began last year between the founder of the world's largest social network platform and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron has made tackling hate speech and spreading false information online a major part of his call to make France the leader in combatting these issues.

Facebook has already begun to cooperate with the French justice system regarding posts on terrorist attacks and violent acts by giving IP addresses and other data to French judges who formally request it.

O said this followed a meeting between himself and Facebook head of global affairs Nick Clegg, this cooperation was extended to hate speech, but that the French government and Facebook have had an ongoing conversation on this issue.

Facebook declined to comment on this cooperation.
Zuckerberg said in a report out last month on tech regulation that this could be considered the basis for more encompassing EU regulation.

Originally Facebook had refused to hand over the identification data of those accused of hate speech because it was not required to do so. The international company was also worried that countries who did not have an independent judiciary could misuse this cooperation.

French parliament is currently debating legislation that would give the internet regulator the power to levy fines on tech companies – including up to four percent of their worldwide revenue – if they do not do enough to scrub hate speech from their network.

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