The French government confirmed on Wednesday that it was studying “suspending functions” on social networks in the event of new disturbances, but assured its spokesman that these measures would continue to be temporary and punctual.
Restrict access to social networks in case of new riots? This measure, mentioned by Emmanuel Macron to nearly 300 mayors of cities that were victims of violence during the riots, has caused controversy. So much so that the government spokesman clarified the project on Wednesday, July 5, assuring that he has no intention of carrying out a “general blackout” of the platforms.
“It could be a suspension of functionalities,” said government spokesman Olivier Véran, referring to the tools available in situations such as the riots triggered by the death of the young Nahel on June 27.
“Calls to organize hate”
“You have, for example, geolocation functions, on certain platforms, that allow young people to meet in such and such a place, showing scenes, how to set fires, etc… They are calls to the organization of hate in space public, and you have the authority to suspend them”, he said when reporting from the Council of Ministers.
According to the entourage of the head of state, Emmanuel Macron “at no time did he say that he was considering cutting the networks in the sense of a general blackout.” “It’s about ‘being able to temporarily suspend social networks from time to time,’ added this source.
“We must reflect on the use of these networks among the youngest, in families, at school, and on the prohibitions that should be imposed,” stressed the Head of State, according to comments collected by the press and confirmed by the Élysée .
“We have seen it (…) when things get out of hand for a while, we say to ourselves: perhaps we are putting ourselves in a position to regulate or cut them,” he said. “It’s important not to do it on the spur of the moment. I’m glad we didn’t have to,” he added.
“OK Kim Jong Un”
The reactions were swift. “Cut off social networks? Like China, Iran, North Korea?” The president of the Republicans (LR) group in the National Assembly, Olivier Marleix, joked on Twitter, lamenting a “provocation in very bad taste.”
“OK Kim Jong-un”, exclaimed the deputy of Unsubmissive France Mathilde Panot in the same vein, referring to the North Korean leader.
“It would mean giving up the idea that democracy is stronger than the tools used against it. It would be a mistake,” said Éric Bothorel, a deputy from the ruling party.
The Minister of Digital Transition, Jean-Noël Barrot, proposed Tuesday night to the Senate the creation of a working group to study the measures to be taken in the event of riots, which could be included in the bill to “secure” the Internet. .
*With AFP; adapted from its original in French