France Wants To Level Up EU’s Tech Regulation

French and EU flags

The European Union’s proposed mandates to regulate Big Tech has France weighing in to wield its own power to assess penalties, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday (Feb. 16).

The EU’s planned regulations would allow member states to levy their own penalties for bad behavior and content. French minister for the digital economy Cedric O has already held talks with senior EU officials and European parliament members to discuss the matter. Last week, Cedric O met with Thierry Breton, the European commissioner tasked with managing the proposed upcoming legislation.

“We are getting pretty active in terms of talking to various people about the upcoming tech regulation. Getting these laws passed is a major objective of ours for when France next holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council next year,” Cedric O told FT. 

“They touch on vitally important subjects both for our economies and democracies,” he added.

French officials are striving to make changes to the Digital Services Act (DSA), which outlines how tech companies should police the web. It is looking to give all member states the right to levy fines against tech platforms and push them to get rid of content deemed illegal.

The move by France could increase tension in Brussels, where EU regulators are concerned about individual states enacting their own Big Tech legislation. Currently, EU laws can only be applied where tech companies are headquartered. As such, Ireland and Luxembourg have a big role in the regulation of technology companies — Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are all based there.

“This would remove one of the first pillars of EU law and it would mean that a company, instead of being subject to one regulator, is subject to 27 authorities,” one source said, per FT. “It risks fragmenting the single market into a nightmare.”

France is also pushing for the DSA to police content. “We think the text needs to be broadened to include other types of problematic content,” said O. “If there is no legal framework there is nothing to stop Twitter or Facebook from censoring speech they do not like.”

Last year set the stage for this year’s tech regulation that could alter how companies interact with their consumers. 

French President Emmanuel Macron advised Big Tech to adhere to the EU’s mandates to moderate online content and reel in their power.