Game News Influencers: towards more restrictive rules? The government responds
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It was through a video posted on Twitter on January 8, 2023 that Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, presented his wish to establish a code of good conduct for influencers. In the program ? A precise definition of the role of the influencer, reinforced contractual obligations and an accentuated role for the control and supervisory authorities. We were able to get closer to Bercy in order to better understand the ins and outs of this project.
- The influence better framed
- Labeled “responsible streamer”
- A battery of tools
The influence better framed
“I need you”. It is with this interpellation that Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, began his video posted on Twitter. “I’m going to tell you about content creators on the internet. (…) You are millions to consult their opinion, their recommendations” he continues. These 150,000 influencers “play a role in our daily lives“, what “gives them a special responsibility”says Bruno Le Maire.
In order to avoid what the Minister describes as “scams”, like some creators advertising miracle investments and harmful products, Bercy would like to regulate the sector by implementing a code of good conduct. “My goal is to protect consumers against possible scams and to support influencers who are responsible. We just have to agree on a certain number of rules, a certain number of behaviors” announces Bruno Le Maire. In case of non-compliance with the rules, influencers will be “punished with great firmness” assures the Minister of the Economy. Several regulatory bodies are already in charge of monitoring the content creators sector such as the DGCCRF, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers and the Autorité Nationale des Jeux. The government’s ambition here is to better apply the existing law.
We are committed to protecting the influencer who is the creator of wealth. We will make the rules clearer with a website and guides. By making the rules clearer and more accessible, fraudsters will no longer have an excuse. Bercy
“Influence affects freedom of expression, marketing and sales. As a protector of consumers, as a guardian of economic sectors and as a minister whose vocation is to promote creativity and the economy, it was necessary to grasp the subject. But it had to be done the right way“Bercy answers us during a Teams interview that took place on January 17, 2023. This is why the ministry set up a round table in mid-December, then brings together eight working groups each week where agencies, influencers , academics and advertisers express themselves on four themes: rights/obligations, consumer protection, intellectual property and governance.
Labeled “responsible streamer”
The government’s objective is to put in place “the best possible code of good conduct, the most effective, the fairest and the most rewarding for the world of influencers in the coming months” according to Bruno Le Maire. To help him in this mission, an Internet site has been put online from which the French can express themselves on eleven measures divided into four themes. Among them, the development of an information site on intellectual property law, the creation of a practical guide presenting the legal obligations of influencers, the prohibition of the promotion of certain products, the introduction of duties additional verification of digital platforms, the establishment of a professional federation and a responsible label, reinforcement for the control authorities and the definition of mandatory contractual frameworks to better regulate agreements between influencers, influence agencies and brands/advertisers.
“Beyond the gatherings, it was necessary to ask the French what they thought of these subjects. This site is a new method of Bercy, we do not claim that the State knows better, that it will arrive with its big clogs of regulators in a sector which has been regulated. We are in a listening posture and we are working in parallel on a series of measures“Bercy explains to us. According to the figures sent to us, more than 10,000 contributors have taken part so far.”In France, the principle is freedom. If you impose too many rules on a profession, it becomes a regulated profession like doctors, notaries, lawyers. Influencers have a great responsibility but not to the point of having a regulated profession“.
We want more pedagogy and regulation, above all we don’t want to curb creativity. One cannot accuse people solely on morality. For the state, it is difficult to regulate morality. We rely on everyone’s responsibility. There are rules of non-discrimination and non-defamation that apply to all French people and not just influencers. Bercy
In the facts, each measurement can be noted with emoticons (similar to “very favorable”, “favorable”, “quite unfavorable”, “totally unfavorable”). Also, they can be commented on. Some users took the opportunity to propose a ban on making commercial partnerships with streamers who do not pay their taxes in France, to monitor everything relating to remuneration in kind, or even to engage the responsibility of the influencer on the popular products in a video. Proposals that make the government think. “We want to introduce the obligation to have a written contract if there is a quid pro quo. If there is a contract, there is transparency of remuneration. It didn’t exist despite the rules that were there before” announces Bercy. Before adding: “We are looking into the law if we cannot impose legal representation. If you want to be broadcast on French media, even if you live in Dubai, you must have representation that can be taxed and forced to respect the rules in France“.
There are many tax treaties between France and different countries. There are regular checks that take place which sometimes lead to sanctions. The chance we have is that the distribution platforms are international and can cut off an influencer’s access if he does not respect the French rules. Bercy
A battery of tools
As the Ministry of the Economy reminds us, there are already legal texts applying to influencers. However, the fact that their obligations are based on multiple sources ranging from the civil code, to the consumer code via the penal code, makes it difficult to navigate. In the same vein, the law already obliges content creators to specify their commercial intention in their publications, and to respect a certain number of criteria in the way they talk about a product or service. The guide to good conduct aims above all to raise awareness of their obligations. For information, European regulations will soon impose transparency obligations on digital platforms regarding influencers. The latter will have to create a system for reporting illegal content, in particular that published by content creators.
The platforms are now playing the game. They have often used net neutrality to tell us that they don’t have to go and watch what’s going on. In reality, they know how to modulate the pipes according to their internal policy. We say that if they can do it for their internal politics, then they can do it for the state. They were not happy, and we are playing on a ridge line which is not easy. With regard to European law, in particular the DSA and the DMA, there will soon be a European rule which will come into force in France this year which will require platforms to have reporting tools. For our part, we are studying the possibility of going beyond European law. Bercy
Regarding the schedule, the consultation will end on January 31, 2023. The final results will be known in mid-February while the ministry will work on the implementation during the month of March. The bills will then arrive at the National Assembly where they can be amended.
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