Out-Law News 1 min. read

Search engines and directory services in France have 48 hours to de-list terrorist and child abuse content

A new process designed to ensure the speedy removal or blocking of websites that incite terrorism from search engine and directory results has effect in France from today. 

Under the new decree, signed by French prime minister Manuel Valls, search engines must take "every reasonable measure" to de-list websites that incite or advocate the commission of terrorist acts and sites that display child abuse images within 48 hours of being requested to do so by a unit of the French national police dedicated to tackling computer-based crime.

The same duty to act applies to email address directories where the police flag unlawful terrorist or child abuse content being communicated from addresses in their directories, under the new rules.

The police are under a duty to ensure their notifications to search engine and email address directory operators are transmitted securely in way which guarantees the "confidentiality and integrity" of the communications. Operators of search engines and directory services in France are required to "preserve the confidentiality of data provided to them", according to the decree.

Under the new rules, only certain authorised officers within the police unit are permitted to send the notifications.

The Central Office for Combating Crime linked to Information and Communication Technologies (OCLCTIC), a specialised unit of the police, will also be required at least every three months to review the websites that they have flagged as promoting illegal content. If such websites no longer contain any illegal content, this unit must notify search engines and directories providers "without delay". Those providers would then have 48 hours to recover websites for referencing "by any appropriate means".

Search engines and directories providers can recover the costs involved in complying with the new procedure from the French government.

The decree gives more detail to and brings into force parts of a law adopted in November 2014. The Paris terrorist attacks in January have accelerated the process for adopting this decree and another published in February which relates to the blocking of websites through hosting services providers and online content editors.

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