In early March 2021, France’s media regulatory agency, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) wrote to several large traffic volume adult content websites asking that they implement an age verification system by 16 March. Letters were sent to Pornhub.com, xHamster.com, XVideos.com, XNXX.com, Tukif.com, JacquieEtMichel.net, JacquieEtMicheltv.net and JacquieEtMicheltv2.net.
With the deadline now passed and if nothing is done after a fifteen day period, then the president of the CSA can call the President of the Judicial Tribunal of Paris to issue a judicial order to the companies telling them to ‘put an end to the access to this service.’ The offending individual risks three years imprisonment and a fine of €75,000, with the fine amount being multiplied by five to €375,000 for companies.
French legal experts also mentioned an intermediate step before total shutdown: having the CSA and a judge ask search engines to “dereference” or “deprioritize” the seven websites so they no longer show in search results.
The push has come about following an initiative by President Emmanuel Macron’s government regarding an amendment to Article 23 after France’s parliament passed a law last year against domestic violence that includes provisions obliging pornographic websites to install age verification, without specifying what technical means they should take. The law also gives the President of the CSA the power to send a formal notice to any company or person whose online activity allows minors to have access to pornographic content.
Despite the passed deadline the sites appear to still be active in France. It is unclear at this point if the judicial authorities have been contacted by the CSA to report the apparent non-compliance. The sites in question are posting notices on their homepages trying to inform the public of the French government’s threats.
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