Opposition and critics have lambasted President Macron’s anti-fake news draft law for violating free speech and targeting alternative media. France’s lower house of parliament began discussing the controversial legislation.
The draft was proposed by Emmanuel Macron himself after he claimed he was the victim of a barrage of fake news stories during the 2017 presidential election, including allegations that he had a gay affair. Presented as a law aimed to battle “manipulation of information,” the draft is being debated in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, on June 7-8.

If passed, the bill would allow French judges to block the publication of any information deemed to be false ahead of elections. The legislation says that it mainly targets “those media controlled by foreign states,” as well as “digital platforms.”

“This law is intended … to protect fundamental freedoms (freedom of expression, protection of the sources of journalists),”the statement reads. But critics fear it is a possible means to restrict free speech.

Macron’s presidential rival, Marine Le Pen, from the anti-immigration and Euroskeptic National Front party, believes that the legislation can be used “as a basis for real political censorship.”

“The fake news bill is repressive: if the assembly votes for it, the most essential values embodied in our Constitution and the values of democracy will be violated!” she wrote on Twitter.

The president’s ‘arch nemesis,’ Jean-Luc Mélenchon, wrote a lengthy article slamming the proposed bill, calling it “a ridiculous and absurd pretension which aims to acquire the power of freedom.”

“Emmanuel Macron chose a repressive approach and censorship only,” he wrote, adding that the spread of fake news is “the new obsession of the powerful in Europe and the USA.”

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