France is considering appointing an official internet ombudsman to investigate complaints about online material in order to prevent excessive censorship and preserve free speech. A bill establishing a content qualification assessment procedure has been tabled in the French senate.
Dan Shefets, a Danish lawyer explained one of the issues targeted by the bill:
ISPs face both penal and civil liability as soon as they are made aware of allegedly illicit content. One consequence of such liability is that smaller companies take down such content for fear of later sanctions.
The aim is to provide a simple procedure that will support firms operating online who are uncertain of their legal liabilities and to prevent over-zealous removal or censorship of material merely because it is the subject of a complaint. It could be copied by other European jurisdictions.
The idea is that a rapid response from the internet ombudsman would either order the material to be taken down or allow it to remain. As long as ISPs complied with the rulings, they would not face any fine or punishment.