French influencers face jail for flouting new ad regulations

France has recently adopted legislation that could lead to jail time for influencers who violate new promotion regulations. The laws aim to protect consumers from deceptive or counterfeit online commercial practices and impose restrictions on the promotion of lottery and betting games, as well as prohibiting the advertisement of products such as tobacco. This marks the first time the role of influencers has been legally defined in Europe.

The cross-party legislation was unanimously passed in a Senate vote after making its way through the rest of parliament. Influencers, who are online personalities with large numbers of subscribers and the ability to set trends, often encourage people to purchase products they promote without disclosing that they receive payment for advertising these items. French lawmakers, in response to a rise in online scams, have sought to “clarify the contours” of commercial activity and specify the “responsibilities and obligations” of influencers.

Under the new laws, “actors of commercial influence” will be prohibited from advertising lottery or gambling games on platforms that lack the ability to restrict access to minors. Additionally, the promotion of cosmetic surgery, certain financial products, medical devices, and tobacco will be forbidden. Violations could result in up to two years in prison or a fine of up to €300,000 (around £257,000 or US$322,000).

However, concerns have been raised regarding the authorities’ ability to enforce these new rules, particularly when influencers’ accounts are accessible in France, but the individual is physically located outside the country’s jurisdiction. According to France’s Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, the country is home to over 150,000 influencers.

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Lilly Larkin

Lilly is a writer with a diverse international background, having lived in various countries including Thailand. Her unique experiences provide valuable insights and culturally sensitive perspectives in her news reporting. When not writing, Lilly enjoys exploring local art scenes, volunteering for community projects, and connecting with people from different cultures.