The French President Emmanuel Macron has suggested French citizens convicted of hate speech crimes could be banned from social media for life.
According to Breitbart, Macron introduced the idea at the annual dinner for the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIR) as part of a new proposed bill to fight against hate speech which is tabled for May 2019.
Breitbart reports that Macron also compared banning people convicted of hate speech from social media with the banning of football hooligans from football matches.
It’s unclear how the French government would enforce the potential ban but the Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi suggested that Twitter should send the IP address of every user to the justice system in the following statement:
The IP address is what Twitter has on each user who publishes a message on its platform. It must, as soon as possible, send it to the justice system to quickly identify the author and then ‘we can continue.’
Majjoubi also suggested that online platforms should give information to French authorities faster in the following statement:
It is no longer acceptable today that platforms that have the means to help justice and the police to identify the person who has committed an offense online take several weeks, even months, before giving the information.
The announcement comes at a time when online hate speech laws are creeping their way into countries across Europe. In 2017, Germany passed a law that required social media platforms to remove hate speech within 24 hours and there have also been increased reports of UK police investigating potential online hate incidents this year.
While this French bill is currently just a proposal and it may never be passed, it’s worrying to see restrictions on speech increasingly making their way into legal systems across Europe. Especially, when those restrictions are based around the nebulous term “hate speech” which is never clearly defined and often applied subjectively.