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French MPs adopt 'fake news' bill

AFP  |  Paris 

French lawmakers on Wednesday adopted two bills to prevent the spread of false information during election campaigns following allegations of Russian meddling in the 2017

The "fake news" bills enable a candidate or political party to seek a court injunction preventing the publication of "false information" during the three months leading up to a national election.

They also give France's broadcast authority the power to take any network that is "controlled by, or under the influence of a foreign power" off the air if it "deliberately spreads false information that could alter the integrity of the election." The measure is seen as aimed at Russia's state-backed network which began broadcasting in French late last year.

Macron has had Russian media in his sights since his 2017 campaign when a state-backed Russian site ran allegations that he was gay and had a in the

France's opposition has criticised the bills as an attempt to create a "thought police", noting that a law dating to 1881 already protects politicians and other citizens against defamation.

Ahead of the late-night vote, defended the draft laws saying they "in no way" violated the right to free speech.

The main target of the legislation is stories spread by fake-bots that are "manifestly false and shared in a deliberate, mass and artificial way," she said. The bill also requires that Facebook, and other reveal the names of companies behind sponsored content and establishes a press ethics council, headed by the former of agency

Opposition parties from both the left and right have warned of the difficulty for judges being forced to make hasty decisions about what is true and what is false and of the courts being used for political point scoring.

"Good intentions don't always make for good laws," of the opposition Socialists warned.

Previous versions of the bills were adopted by the in July, with the backing of Macron's Republic on the Move party, but they were rejected by the opposition-controlled

The latest drafts will now go back to the for approval.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, October 10 2018. 16:25 IST