Le Pen wants content moderation the French way or a public social network

On data sovereignty, Le Pen wants to make it compulsory for French data, national companies and public services to be hosted by French or European operators on the continent. [Esther Snippe]

Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate facing president Emmanuel Macron in the second round of voting on 24 April, wants to clamp down on digital platforms and even create a “free, public social network” if they fail to cooperate with her. EURACTIV France reports.

At the start of April, Le Pen presented her proposals for the digital sector, in which she painted a somewhat gloomy picture of the sector’s challenges.

According to her, “France and the countries of Europe” do not benefit from the sectors’ economic growth as the US and China, crush them.

While the sector accounts for 5.5% of France’s GDP, it “deprives us of personal autonomy” by “taking over all our activities that we no longer do ourselves”, her programme reads.

Digital platforms, governed “by their own rules”, should no longer be able to impose “censorship” on people, according to Le Pen. She added that not only should platforms cooperate more, but “only the application of national law”, coordinated by a judge, should have the power to decide on the removal or non-removal of content.

If social media giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter fail to comply with her demands, Le Pen will not hesitate to “have a free and open public social network established and managed”. “Public debate cannot be confiscated”, she writes.

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Digital sovereignty

Unsurprisingly, Le Pen’s programme focuses heavily on sovereignty.

Like many first-round candidates, she wants to see the emergence of French or European champions. This will be achieved through “targeted aid for digital companies, but also by giving priority to French or European suppliers”, particularly via the “French sovereign fund” she plans to set up, her programme adds.

Le Pen is also calling for French suppliers to be used exclusively for public procurement in military and security fields, and for European suppliers to be used for the rest. “This preference is in line with existing national and European legislation, but has so far remained unimplemented,” she said. If elected, she wants “strict control “over foreign takeovers of leading French companies.

On data sovereignty, Le Pen wants to make it compulsory for French data, national companies and public services to be hosted by French or European operators.

The French candidate also calls for principles governing the collection and use of personal data to be reviewed. Greater clarity, deactivation of targeted advertising by default – or a total ban when users are minors – as well as a minimisation principle are among her stances.

European service providers must also benefit from a “right to process data by default” while foreign operators will have to provide additional guarantees, she added.

On top of that, she wants to see the creation of “digital commandos”, who would react in case of a cyberattack. Furthermore, crypto-assets should be placed under the common regime of financial markets.

As for platform workers, Le Pen is clear that they should be awarded employment status.

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“Buy European Act” or not, the presidential candidates agree on the need to direct more public procurement towards European digital actors in order to be able, one day maybe, to fight on equal terms against the American or Chinese giants.

[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/ Alice Taylor]

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