France the reward foundation

France has developed a legal framework for age verification through an interesting route. The law of July 30, 2020 was aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence. The law included provisions relating to the protection of minors. It included a threshold that made it clear that simply asking users of pornography websites if they were of legal age, was insufficient protection.

As far as I can tell there were no efforts to enforce the law of July 30, 2020. However, in October 2021 the law was modified by a further presidential decree. This gave the Superior Audiovisual Council, also known as the CSA, new powers. They can give individual pornography websites 15 days to install an effective age verification system.

When the Superior Audiovisual Council still failed to take action using its new powers, the campaigning group StopAuPorno took them to court. As a result, in mid-December 2021, the CSA threatened to block five pornographic sites from operating in France if they did not prevent minors from accessing their content. The sites were Pornhub, Xvideos, Xnxx, Xhamster and TuKif. They include the world’s four largest pornography sites. The CSA gave them fifteen days to find a solution. In the event of non-compliance with this request, the sites in question risk a total blocking of their content in France.

New Regulator

A significant change in the regulatory landscape occurred on January 1st, 2022. The CSA was merged with another body to create Arcom, The Audiovisual and Digital Communication Regulatory Authority. The objective of this merger is to create a new, more powerful policeman, both for audiovisual and digital. The new body will have additional responsibilities covering social media and Internet regulation.

As far as I am aware, the final result of the age verification action begun by the CSA is not yet known. Arcom has said those five websites are just a start. Its ambition is to force all porn websites to comply with the law. By February 2022 Pornhub’s French site had added a tick-box to allow users to self-certify that they are over 18 years. However, there was still no meaningful age verification.

This page on France was last updated on 19 February 2022.