France Pacte Bill: Measures impacting the new technology, information technology and communication

The French Parliament is currently working on a new bill, the Action Plan for Business Growth and Transformation (hereinafter the PACTE Bill) which aims to foster the growth of businesses and to transform the role of companies in France.

The PACTE Bill is divided into three parts:

  • company freedoms
  • more innovative companies, and
  • fairer companies.

A wider scope for the protection of strategic businesses (article 74 II 10 of the PACTE Bill)

As of today, in France, the existing framework sets out a procedure for controlling foreign investments in eleven sectors. Foreign investments in these sectors are subject to the prior authorization of the State. The PACTE Bill expands the list of strategic sectors which now includes the semiconductors production, space, drones, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, and big data.

Initial Coin Offerings (article 26 of the PACTE Bill)

The PACTE Bill implements an optional visa system giving powers to the French Financial Markets Authority (hereinafter the AMF) to approve and issue visas to businesses intending to raise money to finance a project or an activity on the French market via an ICO, so long as said businesses comply with a set of rules for the protection of investors against manifest abuse and the provision of reliable information.

This project involves setting out a list of companies complying with the criteria defined by the AMF. This list will be a valuable benchmark for investors and will certainly be a positive incentive for foreign companies to invest in France via an ICO.

Fund for innovations (article 53 of the PACTE Bill)

The PACTE Bill provides for the creation of a €10bn innovation fund to finance projects that are technology-intensive and involve "major challenges to our national sovereignty" such as, artificial intelligence and nanoelectronics. This fund will enable investments of between €200m and €300m per year in disruptive innovation and it will be piloted by an Innovation Council.

Autonomous vehicles (article 43 of the PACTE Bill)

As of today, only few companies can test autonomous vehicles on public roads with heavy restriction in terms of timing and location, to ensure there is no risk to the public. The PACTE Bill facilitates the possibility of conducting experiments. This measure aims to trigger the development of the autonomous technology by attracting researchers and creating an international centre of excellence with share tools.

Requesting telecommunications Operators’ cooperation (article 24 of the PACTE Bill)

In France, as of today, the principle is that electronic communications operators, including providers of public online communication services, shall delete or anonymise technical data.

There are however several exceptions, namely but not limited to: the needs of the research; establishment and sanction of criminal conducts or damages in relation to IP rights; the fight against terrorism; or the prohibition of illicit content (which also includes the fight against child pornography or against incitement of racial hatred or crimes against humanity), where it may be deferred for a maximum of one year to the deletion or anonymization of certain categories of technical data (ie data relating to the identification of persons using the services, the technical characteristics of the communication, and the localization of terminal equipment. It can never relate to the content of correspondence or information covered by any consent relevant to such communications).

The PACTE Bill extends this right of communication of technical data to the agents of the AMF investigating market abuses, subject to the prior authorization of a “Data Connection request Supervisor” who will be nominated by decree.

The PACTE Bill was adopted at first reading by the National Assembly on 09 October 2018. PACTE Bill is expected to be examined by the Senate at the beginning of 2019.

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