Facebook to give data of hate speech suspects to French courts in world first

25 June 2019, 21:48 | Updated: 26 June 2019, 06:07

In a world first, Facebook will hand over identification data of French users that are suspected of hate speech to judges in French courts.

The measure was announced by France's minister for digital affairs, Cedric O, on Tuesday.

Mr O is one of Emmanuel Macron's earliest political allies, and has been a big influence in shaping the French leader's policy on big tech.

The decision by Facebook comes after several meetings between founder Mark Zuckerberg and President Macron, who says he wants to take a global role on the regulation of hate speech and the spread of fake news online.

Facebook has so far cooperated with the French legal system in relation to terror attacks, previously handing over IP addresses and other data of suspected individuals, if it is formally asked for.

After a meeting between Sir Nick Clegg, who is Facebook's head of global affairs, and Mr O, the tech company extended its terms of cooperation to hate speech.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency, Mr O said: "This is huge news, it means that the judicial process will
be able to run normally.

"It's really very important, they're only doing it for France."

He added that he had been in close contact with Sir Nick over the past few days and said that the decision is the result of the ongoing communication between Facebook and the French government.

Mr O has made online hate speech a a key part of his work since his nomination as a minister in March, and has spoken regularly to Facebook about the issue.

The decision comes as the company saw its fine reduced in Brazil after it withheld data from its messaging platform Whatsapp during a drug-trafficking trial.

A fine of $528m (£416m) was slapped on Facebook in June 2017, but was reduced to just $6m (£4.73m) after a high court ruling on Tuesday.