"The law of the jungle is over," insists PS/Nupes MP Arthur Delaporte. This Thursday, Parliament has just definitively adopted the bill against the excesses of influencers, after months of controversy in the field. This vote serves as a political event: first because it is transpartisan, supported by the government, and voted unanimously in both the National Assembly and the Senate. But also, and above all, because it is the first text in Europe to regulate the commercial practices of Internet stars. Here are the detailed rules of this new law, which is expected to be promulgated in June.
From now on, the status of influencer is defined in the law. Influencers are therefore considered to be "natural or legal persons who, for consideration, mobilise their reputation among their audience to communicate to the public by electronic means content aimed at promoting, directly or indirectly, goods, services or any other cause carry out the activity of commercial influence by electronic means".
Influencer agents also benefit from a clear definition, and will have to frame their work with a content creator by a written and detailed contract.
Ads harmful to health banned
The stars of the net followers of injections or cosmetic surgery will no longer have to boast these practices on their accounts. From now on, the "direct or indirect promotion of acts, processes, techniques and methods for aesthetic purposes" is prohibited, says the law.
On the health side, the fact of highlighting "products, acts, processes, techniques and methods presented as comparable, preferable or substitutable for therapeutic acts, protocols or prescriptions" is also prohibited. So forget the advertisements of miracle products against diabetes, cancer or overweight.
The elected officials also targeted ads highlighting cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, or Puffs, fashionable among young people, by prohibiting all "products considered as nicotine products that can be consumed and composed, even partially, of nicotine".
Gambling and supervised investments of financial products
Beware of influencers who promise to grow your wallet with NFT offers, investments in cryptocurrency or questionable trading. Because from now on, these promotions will be strictly regulated. Offerings of digital tokens, digital assets or digital asset services are also prohibited, unless they come from platforms approved by financial authorities.
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Gambling advertising must be reserved for a major audience, and will only be possible on platforms that therefore exclude minors from the target audience. On the sports side, "any promotion, direct or indirect, in favor of subscriptions to sports advice or predictions" is also prohibited.
Counterfeits and dropshipping undermined
Influencers are also held liable "as of right to the buyer" when they promote specific products, even if they are not in charge of their delivery. They are therefore responsible for providing essential information concerning the promoted good, its price, delivery times, or the identity of the supplier.
They will also have to ensure that these products are not illegal, or that they are not counterfeit. A mention that should undermine the practice of dropshipping, frequently pinned for its opacity and often assimilated to a misleading commercial practice.
Clearly marked advertisements and alterations
Already applied by some influencers, the obligation to indicate commercial partnerships will have to be generalized and harmonized. "The promotion of goods, services or any cause" made by an influencer" must be explicitly indicated by the mention "Advertising" or the mention "Commercial collaboration". This mention is clear, legible and identifiable on the image or video, in all formats, during the entire promotion, "continues the text.
Selfies with smoothed images, photos of bodies with retouched imperfections, must be accompanied by the mention "retouched images". Images created using artificial intelligence will also have to display the mention "virtual images". Again, these indications must be "clear, legible and identifiable on the image or video, in all formats, during the entire viewing".
Influencers living abroad also concerned
Even if they are based abroad, especially in Dubai, influencers targeting the French public will not be spared by these measures: the law indicates that they will have to designate, in writing, "a legal or natural person to ensure a form of legal representation on the territory of the European Union".
This person will have to respond, if necessary, "to all requests from the competent administrative or judicial authorities".
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These representatives of the stars of the net based abroad will also be required to take out civil insurance "with an insurer established in the European Union" in order to guarantee "the financial consequences of its professional civil liability".
Heavy sanctions to be feared
In the event of non-compliance, content creators face penalties of up to two years' imprisonment and a fine of €300,000. They may also be subject to a "permanent or provisional" ban on carrying out their activity.
Platforms also empowered
Also targeted by this law, platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat or Instagram are required to set up mechanisms for reporting abuses. They must also undertake to apply, "as soon as possible", the injunctions made by the courts concerning influencers responsible for abuses.