a decree could soon block pornographic sites

The French government is undermining the pornographic industry. In a decree published on October 7, 2021, it leaves the Superior Council of Audiovisual (CSA) the possibility of blocking any pornographic site which does not verify the age of its Internet users. A control that is difficult to achieve …

Goodbye porn in France?

We are not there yet, but it is not unthinkable either in view of this decree. Indeed, the French government wants to protect minors from exposure to pornographic content. If they do not carry out a real control of the age of Internet users, pornographic sites could see their access blocked throughout France by the CSA.

Indeed, at present, the majority of X sites are satisfied with a pop-up window asking the Internet user to ensure that he is indeed over 18 years old. Nothing more. Pornographic sites will therefore have to go further if they want to continue their activity.

How will this decree be applied?

As soon as an Internet user or an association informs the Superior Council of Audiovisual of a pornographic site which allows minors to access its content, the latter sends him a formal notice.

The site then has 15 days after receipt of the letter to comply with French law, and in particular article 227-24 of the Penal Code. The latter punishes platforms exposing minors to pornographic content with 3 years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros.

If, despite everything, the site has not changed its practices, the body will then be able to block its access throughout France. In fact, the pornographic site would refer to a page of the CSA. A redirection which should not please Internet users … All the more so given the popularity of X sites, these referrals risk greatly overloading the CSA site.

However, there is a problem with this decree. And a big one. Today, this verification is technically not feasible. In France as elsewhere, there is no solution to verify the age of an Internet user. Only Britain had an early response by suggesting sharing ID to enter a pornographic site. A project very quickly abandoned due to its imperfection.

Indeed, asking for an identity document would mean a major collection of personal data from companies based, most of the time, abroad. In addition, nothing would prove that the said identity document sent does indeed correspond to the Internet user in question. And above all, who wants to scan their identity card to access a pornographic site? In short, a solution that is clearly not one.

It remains to be seen how the Superior Audiovisual Council intends to enforce this decree. Difficult, in fact, to reproach pornographic sites for not checking the age of its Internet users without giving them a solution to do so..

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