In order to improve the users' trust in digital services, and further to the publication of the Digital Republic Act ("Loi pour une République numérique") (1), three decrees to improve the transparency of digital platforms were published on 29 September 2017. (2) These decrees cover search engines, social networks, and comparison websites as well as market places and collaborative economy websites.
1. From 1st January 2018, platforms which generate revenue from third party content, goods or services, e.g. search engines and comparison websites must publish the criteria used for referencing and dereferencing content, as well as the criteria used for the results rankings. These websites will also have to show how their revenue is related to the order in which contents are displayed.
Collaboration platforms must include a section accessible from all the pages of the website providing information about the profile of the users selling goods or services (consumers or professional sellers), how buyers and sellers get connected to each other, the commission due to the platform for the connection between the users, etc. Such information is usually detailed in the platform's terms and conditions.
B-to-C platforms must provide a section to allow professional sellers to post the mandatory data required pursuant to articles L.221-5 et seq. of the consumer code (i.e. description of the good or of the service proposed, price, delivery time, contact details, legal warranty, whether the buyer has a withdrawal right, dispute resolution conditions, etc.).
Finally, websites which publish consumer reviews must specify whether the reviews are verified, and if so, how they are verified. When the reviews are verified, the website operator must insure that the personal data of the contributors are processed in compliance with the data privacy law (loi Informatique et Libertés).
2. From 1st January 2019, platforms with an average of over 5 million unique visitors per month will have to apply good practice in terms of clarity, transparency and loyalty. These rules, which must be accessible online, correspond to the general obligation to provide precontractual information pursuant to articles L.111-1 et seq. of the consumer code.
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(1) Loi #2016-1321 of 7 October 2016 for a Digital Republic (loi pour une république numérique)
(2) Decree #2017-1434 of 29 September 2017 regarding information obligations by digital platform operators; Decree #2017-1435 of 29 September 2017 regarding a connection threshold above which digital platform operators develop and post good practices to improve loyalty, clarity and transparency of the data provided to consumers; Decree #2017-1436 of 29 September 2017 regarding information obligations on online consumer reviews (Décret n°2017-1434 du 29 septembre 2017 relatif aux obligations d'information des opérateurs de plateformes numériques ; Décret n°2017-1435 du 29 septembre 2017 relatif à la fixation d'un seuil de connexions à partir duquel les opérateurs de plateformes en ligne élaborent et diffusent des bonnes pratiques pour renforcer la loyauté, la clarté et la transparence des informations transmises aux consommateurs ; Décret n°2017-1436 du 29 septembre 2017 relatif aux obligations d'information relatives aux avis en ligne de consommateurs)
Deleporte Wentz Avocat