Fighting against information disorder: French CSA unveils monitoring work plan

posted on 16 March, 2020   (public)

A Project Team, an Expert Committee and requesting data from online platforms: this is how the French CSA is dealing with its new tasks regarding information disorder on online platforms

The Law on the fight against information disorder (LOI n° 2018-1202 du 22 décembre 2018 relative à la lutte contre la manipulation de l'information), which was enacted in France on 22 December 2018, creates a new range of duties for online platforms*. This includes the obligation to cooperate with the regulator, to develop an easily accessible and visible reporting system as well as to implement complementary measures such as the transparency of algorithms and media literacy. The Law has entrusted the French CSA with monitoring the compliance with the above-mentioned obligations.

In order to fulfil its legal duties, the French audiovisual regulator has developed an innovative, collaborative and cross-cutting approach. For that purpose, it has created:

  • A Project Team: comprised of nine staff members of the CSA leads the monitoring work, exchanges with the Expert Committee and acts as a contact point with the platforms. 
  • An Expert Committee: composed of 18 professionals with scientific, legal, economic, technological and ethics background. Consulted by the Project Team on a regular basis, the Committee is entitled to develop proposals and issue opinions.

In addition to a Recommendation of May 2019 [FR/EN] directed to the platforms on the measures to prevent the dissemination of false information, on 27 February 2020 the CSA circulated a questionnaire to the platforms, the aim of which is to facilitate the collection of the required data. According to the Law, the platforms have to report (until 31 March 2020) on the measures and methods that they implemented to fight against information disorder on a yearly basis. The reporting for the year 2019 will be publicly available on the CSA website. The questionnaire will also provide input for the comparative assessment that the CSA will conduct on the application and effectiveness of the measures taken by platform service providers.

The exhaustive questionnaire is 7-fold and covers:

1. Reporting mechanisms  
2. Transparency of algorithms
3. Promotion of content emanating from publishing companies and news agencies and audiovisual media services
4. Fight against users’ accounts massively spreading false information
5. Information provided to the users about the nature, origin and dissemination mechanisms of content and about the identity of the persons paying in exchange of the promotion of news content
6. Measures and tools to promote media literacy
7. General remarks.

At this early stage, the main objective of the CSA is to enhance the cooperation with online platforms to facilitate the implementation of the legal provisions. Platforms are encouraged to share the difficulties that they face when implementing the new measures and to establish a contact point with the regulator.

*only online platforms with an activity exceeding 5 million visitors per month, calculated on the basis of the last calendar year, are concerned. 

Source: Website of the French CSA

Further EPRA Background: the draft Law on the fight against information was presented to EPRA members by Frédéric Bokobza, Deputy Director of the French CSA, at the 48th meeting in Bratislava in October 2018.