Who: Parliament’s Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education (National Assembly)
When: 12 February 2020
The French Parliament is currently discussing legislation on child influencers. Once finalised, this new piece of legislation will regulate the marketing exploitation of the image of children under 16 years old on online video sharing platforms.
The French Professional Advertising Regulation Authority (ARPP) defines an influencer (blogger, vlogger etc.), young or adult, as “an individual expressing a point of view or giving advice, in written, audio and/or visual form, in a specific area and according to a style or treatment that is unique to him or her and that his or her audience identifies“.
Young YouTubers can have millions and subscribers and publish several videos each week, therefore spending significant time on their influencing without any framework relating to the amounts of hours worked. Despite the popularity of young YouTubers, there is currently no legal framework specifically regulating the contract between a brand or an advertiser and an influencer. In light of this, the French government proposed a draft bill, which purpose is to avoid any form of undeclared work and to protect children both financially and psychologically.
The new set of rules, which are being discussed, provides for new obligations falling on parents, brands, but also video sharing platforms, which include:
- A requirement to obtain an authorisation or an approval from an administrative authority to publish videos of under 16-year-old influencers, when their image is used for lucrative purposes and on online platforms. The influencer activity may be deemed “for lucrative purposes” when ads are used for the purpose of attracting clients, or when the influencer activity frequency and importance are established. A certain length and number of videos, or a turnover realised directly or indirectly through the video, which will be defined by secondary legislation, will also trigger the requirement of a declaration to the administrative authority.
- Part of the direct or indirect income realised through the video broadcasting must be placed in a separate deposit account, held by a public institution, until the child reaches the age of majority or is emancipated. During the discussions, MPs chose to make advertisers more specifically responsible for placing products in videos primarily featuring children, and introduced a €75,000 fine for the advertisers who knowingly infringe such obligation to pay a part of their revenue on a separate deposit fund – this should not apply to instances where products or services are provided as compensation instead of money.
- Video sharing platforms will also bear some responsibility. The first version of the draft bill provided that platforms were responsible for identifying contents picturing children under 16 and for providing them with direct information regarding the risks of having their image broadcasted on their services. In the version currently adopted by MPs, platforms will have to adopt procedures aimed at fighting against the unlawful image use of under 16s. Further, on request of the concerned individual, whether an adult or a minor, the video sharing platform will have to remove content without delay, when the individual was a minor at the time of the content release.
Why this matters
MPs have acknowledged the lack of legal framework for child influencers and intend to fill this legal vacuum with a view to protecting children. A new status of a child influencer will be created on basis of the social protection provided to children in the entertainment sector.