Digital ID may soon be a requirement for social media participation, as both France and the UK have taken steps toward the ban of anonymous social media accounts.
The website of the French Senate published a new bill proposing the creation of an independent supervisory authority in charge of collecting user identities when they register with online platforms.
According to Conservative Senator Alain Cadec, the creation of the new law would stop an observed increase in cyberbullying and make it easier to prosecute potential offenders.
“The proposed law thus aims to facilitate the identification of the perpetrators of offenses, and thereby contribute to putting an end to the real feeling of impunity of the authors of hateful, racist, homophobic or sexist messages,” reads the bill’s explanatory statement.
According to the new document, submitting a scan of their ID upon registration would make users aware that they can be identified quickly, and therefore serve as a deterrent against offending behaviors.
The proposed independent administrative authority would comprise representatives of platforms, users, parliamentarians, and magistrates, and would be chaired by a member of parliament.
The authority’s duties would encompass the online collection and profile creation of “official data and information allowing the identification of users established on French territory of platforms and social networks exceeding a certain audience threshold in France.”
The identification data would be transmitted at the request of the judge in the event of criminal activity, which would “avoid being submitted to the goodwill of a company located in California or elsewhere in the world.”
In addition, the proposed bills suggest the creation of a non-nominative online digital identifier that would enable registration to be finalized with platforms and social networks, and that would be held by the authority.
UK Home Secretary suggests ban
Talking to Sky News earlier this week, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel declined to rule out a ban on anonymous social media accounts.
The news comes days after the murder of Sir David Amess MP, which has prompted calls for new social media regulations on the basis that online tools might have been used to plan the crime.
Commenting on the news, Matthew Feeney, director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Emerging Technologies, said that “such a proposal should concern everyone who values civil liberties.”
Writing in a blog post on the Cato Institute’s website, Feeney said “while unpleasant and criminal actors use anonymous social media accounts, this fact should not blind lawmakers to the value of anonymous speech.”
Linking digital identities to social media accounts is not a new concept in the UK, with the country already working on a security bill focusing on biometric age verification for social media registration.