The Chairman of the French National Assembly, Claude Bartolone, announced June 11 the creation of a parliamentary commission on digital rights (in French), whose task will be among other things to define guidelines for evaluating legislative proposals affecting digital rights. France’s new Digital Rights Commission consists of 13 members of Parliament and 13 outside experts. Among the outside experts is Hogan Lovell’s partner Winston Maxwell, known for his work on net neutrality and data privacy.
The Digital Rights Commission will hold public hearings to gather testimony of key stakeholders and will deliver its report in the spring of 2015. The Commission is co-chaired by Christian Paul, Member of Parliament, and Christiane Feral-Schuhl, former chair of the Paris Bar Association. The Commission will develop guidelines that the French Parliament can use when debating legislative proposals that affect fundamental rights on the Internet, including laws on the protection of personal data, government access to data, big data, open data and net neutrality.
The idea for the commission emerged after France adopted in December 2013 a law on military spending, which contained a controversial provision allowing government agencies to access real time location data held by telecommunications providers. Parliamentarians are concerned that numerous legislative proposals contain provisions affecting digital fundamental rights, and that Parliament lacks a coherent framework for evaluating these proposals. Moreover, French parliament expects to examine in 2015, a possible broad-based law on the protection of digital rights. The Digital Rights Commission’s input will affect how this proposal, and others, are debated within the National Assembly.