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France - Agreement reached on the French Digital Bill

Published On: 1 September 2016

On 30 June, 2016, a joint committee reached an agreement on the French Digital Bill, i.e. loi pour une République numérique (the "French Digital Bill").

In the process of reaching this agreement, some important data protection topics were heavily debated, such as:

  • Data Localization provision which has not been adopted: fortunately the joint committee rejected the amendment adopted by the French Senate on 3 May 2016 in relation to a data localization provision to be included in the French Data Protection Act. Bypassing the EU General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") and the current Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC, this amendment provided that personal data shall be stored in a data center located within any EU Member State and cannot be subject to a transfer to a third country.

  • Powers of sanction for the CNIL which have been increased: in addition, the joint committee approved an amendment that expands the CNIL powers. Indeed, the amendment increases the amount of fines that the CNIL can impose for violations of the French Data Protection Act. Until the GDPR becomes applicable, the CNIL may impose financial penalties up to EUR 3 million.

  • Additional rights for users: the joint committee approved other amendments that include the right to portability (such as in the GDPR) but requesting companies to ensure the effectiveness of this right by providing technical mechanisms. The companies must also inform the users of data retention periods or at least set out criteria to define data retention periods.

The French Digital Bill has now only to be submitted to the adoption by both houses of the French Parliament, by September 2016.

As of September 2016, organisations will be required to comply with the new obligations set out in the French Digital Bill. The impact of not doing so could be significant given the increased fines that may be issued by the CNIL.

An overview of the French Digital Bill is available here.

An explanatory memorandum for the French Digital Bill is available here.

Submitted by Laurie-Anne Evra-Ancenys, Senior Associate at Gide Loyrette Nouel - Paris, France