We have previously posted on the new French Digital Republic Bill which modified a number of provisions of the French Data Protection Act and other data protection related regulations. This post looks at another change introduced by the Bill.

The Bill introduces a new regulation on online platforms, in the consumer protection code and the code of tourism.

Online platforms

The regulation defines an “online platform operator” as any individual or company, providing for free or in return for a fee (i) online referencing or comparison shopping services or (ii) online marketplaces.

The Bill provides that online platforms must provide fair, clear and transparent information on:

  • the terms and conditions of use;
  • the way in which the contents, goods or services are referenced, delisted or classified;
  • the existence of a contractual relationship, financial interest or a remuneration that influences referencing or comparison; and
  • the advertiser and the rights and obligations of the parties in civil and tax matters, when consumers are put in contact with professionals or non-professionals.

A number of implementing decrees are still pending.

The Bill also provides that major operators must also develop and publish consumer “best practices” aimed at reinforcing the obligations of transparency and loyalty.

The supervisory authority has the power to:

  • conduct surveys to evaluate and compare the practices of online platform operators;
  • collect relevant information from such operators; and
  • publish the results of these evaluations and comparisons as well as a list of online platforms that are non-compliant.

Social networks and forums

The Bill provides that social networks, forums and chatrooms operated by companies or individuals (even where these are incidental to the company’s or individual’s main activity) must:

  • provide users with fair, clear and transparent information on the publication and processing of posts;
  • provide information on the existence and manner of moderation;
  • display the date of the posts and any updates;
  • provide reasons for the rejection of a post; and
  • implement a functionality, free of charge, that allows those responsible for the products or services that are the subject of an online notice to question the authenticity of the post, provided that such a statement is reasoned.

Online homestay networks for very short-term rental residential properties

The code of tourism provides that very short term rentals may be subject to prior registration with the local town administration. In such a case, the Bill provides that the online homestay network must publish the relevant registration and ensure that, where the relevant property is the lessor’s principal place of residence, it is not rented for more than 120 days per year.

Implementing decrees are still pending in relation to monitoring of the implementation and sanctions.