Driven Mad By Its Hatred For Big US Internet Companies, French Government Implements EU Digital Services Act Before It Even Exists

from the to-hell-with-the-consequences dept

The future Digital Services Act (DSA), dealing with intermediary liability in the EU, is likely to be one of the region’s most important new laws for the online world. At the moment, the DSA exists only as a proposal from the European Commission. In due course, the European Parliament and the EU’s Member States will come up with their own texts, and the three versions will ultimately be reconciled to produce legislation that will apply across the whole of the EU. As Techdirt reported last month, the Commission’s ideas are something of a mess, and the hope has to be that the text will improve as the various arms of the EU start to work on it over the coming months.

The French government, however, is unwilling to wait before it can start imposing intermediary liability on the US Internet giants it seems to hate so much. It has decided to bring in key parts of the DSA immediately — even though it doesn’t formally exist — using what it calls a “pretranscription” of the proposed EU law. Next Inpact has the details (original in French), but what matters most is the way the “pretranscription” of the DSA clashes with an important existing EU law, the e-Commerce Directive. The European Commission explains:

While the e-Commerce Directive remains the cornerstone of digital regulation, much has changed since its adoption 20 years ago. The DSA will address these changes and the challenges that have come with them, particularly in relation to online intermediaries.

The DSA is intended to update and supersede the e-Commerce Directive. But until the DSA is passed — something that is years off — the e-Commerce Directive remains in force, and is incompatible with France’s local pretranscription. The best the politicians in France can come up with to justify this extraordinary course of action, which cuts across how the EU is supposed to work collectively to draw up laws that apply uniformly across the whole region, is that all-purpose excuse — the threat of terrorist attacks. Even the French Senate’s Law Committee warned of the “extreme legal fragility” of the government’s logic here. In reality, it’s just another case of the French government keen to bash Internet companies as soon as it can, and to hell with the political, economic or social consequences.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

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