French senators and MPs overcome their differences on a bill intended to control commercial influence and stop online abuses. The document will now go to a final vote on May 31.
The text of the law was unanimously approved by the joint committee of the Assemblée Nationale and the Senate members, ending what the public statement referred to as the “influence jungle”.
The definition, threshold, and transparency of influence, as well as the most effective means to combat fraud and disregard for EU regulations, were among the essential legal issues on which both legislative bodies had to come to a consensus.
Additional explanations have also been provided covering several sanitary and public health regulations, as well as the rights of children and animals.
Regarding the differences between the two assemblies’ definitions of commercial influence activity, they defined it as the use of an influencer’s “notoriety with the audience” in “return for payment” by a third party, whether in cash or kind.
French MPs reinstated the specification of a threshold from which influence action begins in the final text despite being eliminated by the senators in May. An influencer who receives a sample from a business would not ordinarily fall under the threshold, which will be specified by decree at a later time.
French lawmakers decided that, regardless of the length of the video, all advertisements or sponsored videos would indicate “advertisement” or “commercial collaboration” under the Senate’s position, which emphasized the need for transparency.
How to prevent fraud and shield users from scammers was a different topic of discussion. According to the compromise reached, every EU influencer will be required to get civil liability insurance. Insurance will be mobilized in the event of fraud to pay the victims.
Influencers should appoint legal counsel in the EU in cases where they do not have EU residency, with the responsibility of ensuring that written contracts adhere to both French and EU legal systems.
Senators’ initial plan to forbid the promotion of pharmaceutical or para-pharmaceutical items was softened after pressure from MPs for public health, putting the advertising ban within the scope of current French regulations.
However, the agreement extends the restrictions of some current regulations to prohibit the promotion of any nicotine product, including e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn tobacco products like IQOS.
Additionally, therapeutic abstention, which refers to suggesting stopping or changing a therapy supplied by a healthcare provider, and the promotion of any cosmetic or surgical medication are both legally prohibited.
The only exception is when it comes to government campaigns, including advertising ongoing vaccination or campaigns to prevent sexually transmitted illnesses.
Both senators and representatives agreed that advertising gambling to children should be outlawed.
Aside from senators, MPs also decided to uphold a clause that forbade the advertising of wild animals under any circumstances outside of zoos and other specialized venues.
The French Financial Market Authority, which closely controls the status of digital asset service providers, has been given discretion on advertising crypto-assets and cryptocurrencies.
The penalties for violating this influencer regulation are set to be similar to those outlined in the French Consumer Code for “misleading commercial practices by omission”: a fine of up to €300,000 or two years in prison.
The European Commission will assess the text’s compliance with these rules by the end of July.
Final votes in the Assemblée Nationale and the Senate are required to approve the compromise document on May 31.