French politicians have unanimously agreed to implement tough new rules for influencers advertising potentially harmful products, including betting tips and predictions.
An agreement on the legal text was made on May 25 and adopted by the Senate on June 1.
It will be promulgated on June 15, unless a referral to the Constitutional Council is made before then.
Punishments for breaching the new law would include up to two years' imprisonment or seven in "aggravating circumstances" and a fine of €300,000 if advertising bans are not respected or if an influencer conceals the true commercial intent of their post.
President Emmanuel Macron said the new law “defines influencers, fights social media scams and protects consumers”.
The Ministry of Economics and Finance similarly welcomed the bill, saying it made the country the first in Europe and “one of the first countries in the world to propose a complete regulatory framework for the commercial influence sector”.
The existing law already strongly regulated advertising for certain sectors, including gambling; however, influencers found themselves in “legal uncertainty”, according to the Ministry of Economics and Finance.
“From now on, it is clarified that influencers must inform the consumer about the commercial nature of the publications. As such, any promotion of goods or services must be accompanied by the mention of ‘advertising’ or ‘commercial collaboration’,” the ministry explained.
The new law also clarifies that the promotion of tobacco, alcohol, health services, financial products, gambling and games of chance is strictly regulated, as is the case with other commercial communications on the internet, or advertisements on television, radio or in the street.
The changes to the law follow concerns flagged by the French Fraud Prevention Directorate (DGCCRF) and coincide with recent guideline changes to advertising introduced by France’s National Gambling Authority (ANJ).
The DGCCRF and the Ministry of Economic and Finance have made the supervision of influencers a key priority in recent months.
In the first quarter of 2023, the DGCCRF checked 50 influencers, as many checks as it made in the whole of 2022.
“A statement of offence, liable to prosecution for misleading commercial practices, was established for 60 percent of controlled influencers,” according to a DGCCRF press release.
Separately, just last week, the ANJ urged licensees to stop offering links or bonus offers on sports team websites, as part of a warning that sports sponsorships could “trivialise” gambling and make it appealing to minors and problem gamblers.
The ANJ is also asking licensees to end gambling sponsorships on team kits sold to under-18s and is urging sports organisations not to make deals with companies unlicensed in France.