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France has finally regulated influencers

That among other things they will now have to report retouched photos

France has finally regulated influencers That among other things they will now have to report retouched photos

More than 150,000 influencers are active in France, but until now they have not enjoyed ad hoc regulation. That is why, at the beginning of the year, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire launched a popular online consultation to gather proposals on how to «better frame influencers». Six months later, the French parliament gave final approval to a law regulating the online promotional activities of influencers. Since the issue has been felt in the country for so long, the majority and opposition worked together on the proposal, which was unanimously accepted. Until now, in fact, French law did not include among the possible professions that of the influencer, which is why they were regulated through rules originally designed for other occupations. In the text of the new law, which instead creates the legal conditions for legally recognizing this role, influencers are defined as «natural or moral persons who, for remuneration or other benefits, use their notoriety with their audience to communicate online content aimed at promoting, directly or indirectly, goods, services or other causes.»

The lack of clear regulation had led to the emergence of a gray area in which controversial practices had spread: in France, in fact, many influencers have long been accused of not being transparent in presenting sponsored products as such, i.e., their main source of income, or of promoting products of dubious reliability-such as weight-loss pills. The French government's competition and consumer protection agency earlier this year, for example, published the results of a report conducted on more than 50 influencers from 2021: most of those covered by the investigation had committed violations of various kinds - such as not specifying that they had received monetary remuneration for a campaign, or giving misleading information about a sponsored product. The same government agency in 2021 had fined - a total of €20,000 - Nabilla Benattia-Vergara, a French influencer with 8.6 million followers on Instagram alone, because of an undisclosed Bitcoin advertisement.

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The new law goes into detail on these same issues: for example, it prohibits the promotion of certain practices, such as cosmetic surgery, and restricts the promotion of certain medical devices, products containing nicotine, sports betting, and gambling. In addition, as Le Monde reports, the law voted definitively by the Senate states that promotional images retouched with filters or other methods will have to be indicated to the public. In case of violations, the offenses stipulated are fraud or abuse of trust, the penalties for which are up to two years in prison, with fines of 300,000 euros. Many analysts, however, have questioned whether the French authorities will actually be able to police these new regulations, especially with regard to French influencers who live abroad - several are in Dubai - but who sponsor products sold in France. For the latter category, for example, the government has requested the appointment of legal representatives for Europe.

The fact remains that, when it comes to the regulation of online activities, French authorities have been more careful and strict in recent years than those in other European countries - so there is a good case for putting the law into practice. Last year, for example, the government promoted a "Workshop for the Protection of Children Online," aimed at preserving children's Internet privacy and protecting them from phenomena such as cyberbullying, among other things: several major platforms, including Google and Amazon, pledged to sign the manifesto produced by the initiative. In Italy, on the other hand, the regulation of professions that operate exclusively online is still in its infancy: influencers, for example, who number about 350,000 in our country, fall into the category of non-ordinary professions. Greater recognition, in tax terms, of this role-as has happened in France-would, on the one hand, disfavors controversial sponsorship practices in Italy as well, and on the other hand, brings greater protections to people active in the field, also making tax transactions less complex and more transparent.