French President Emmanuel Macron said this week that he plans to propose a law to censor misinformation, also known as “fake news,” and criminally punish those who publish it.
“When fake news are spread, it will be possible to go to a judge…and if appropriate have content taken down, user accounts deleted and ultimately websites blocked,” Macron said in a speech to journalists at the Élysée Palace, according to Politico Europe.
Macron also said news platforms will be burdened with more responsibility to restrict the spread of misinformation.
“Platforms will have more transparency obligations regarding sponsored content to make public the identity of sponsors and of those who control them, but also limits on the amounts that can be used to sponsor this content,” he said.
During election seasons, the law would give power to the government to block websites it considers to be propagators of misinformation and fight “any attempt at destabilization” by media entities controlled by foreign states.
“If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must be strong and have clear rules,” Macron said, according to the Guardian.
During last year’s presidential election, Macron blasted Russia-owned news outlets RT and Sputnik for publishing stories about him that he said were not true.
“Russia Today and Sputnik did not behave as media organizations and journalists, but as agencies of influence and propaganda, lying propaganda — no more, no less,” Macron said in May.
The European Union recently drafted legislation to restrict the spread of information governments consider to be false, but media analysts express doubt such laws would hold up due to the various restrictions in different countries throughout the region.