French President Emmanuel Macron plans to introduce legislation that will crack down on so-called “fake news” during French election campaigns, calling the spread of such misinformation a threat to democracy.
Speaking to journalists at an annual New Year reception on Wednesday, Macron said he intended to overhaul the country’s media laws in order to boost transparency and quash the spread of fake news on social media.
“If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must have strong legislation,” Macron said, per Reuters. “At election time, on internet platforms, the rules applying to content won’t be exactly the same.”
The new legislation would empower France’s media watchdog, the CSA, to combat the dissemination of fake news during elections and mandate more transparency for sponsored content. There would also be an emergency provision that would allow a judge to delete content or block access to a website deemed to be propagating fake news.
Macron previously accused Russia and its state-owned media companies of spreading fake news in order to interfere with the French presidential campaign. The American intelligence community has also expressed “high confidence” that Russia used a similar “influence campaign” during the 2016 U.S. presidential election to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.”
Marine Le Pen, the far-right presidential candidate who was defeated by Macron last year, excoriated the president for his planned fake news ban.
Macron’s announcement came just days after Germany began enforcing its new anti-fake news law, the controversial Network Enforcement Act, also known as the NetzDG law. The German law, which took effect Jan. 1 after a grace period, requires all internet platforms with more than 2 million users to implement a system for reporting and scrubbing potentially illicit content, including fake news and hate speech.