21 Jan 2019 Lvl. 2
Alert created on: 26 Apr 2018 n° 32/2018 France
Corporate Secrets Bill Threatens Right to Information
The French Parliament is about to vote via an accelerated procedure a private member's bill on "the protection of know-how and undisclosed commercial information (corporate secrets) against unlawful collection, use and disclosure". This text is the transposition of the European directive on business secrecy, approved in 2016. On 16 April 2018, the journalists unions SNJ, SNJ-CGT and Journalists CFDT, as well as editors societies of many media outlets (Le Monde, Le Figaro, Les Echos, TV5 Monde, AFP, Radio France, RTL, Le Point, Liberation, TF1, Mediapart, L'Humanité) sent an open letter to the French President Emmanuel Macron, denouncing the bill that "calls into question the general interest and the right of citizens to information". The signatories criticized the particularly broad legal definition of "corporate secret" writing “In a company, any internal information can now be classified in this category. The law on corporate secret concerns information of general interest such as the tax practices of companies, the impact of their activities and products on health and the environment, and so on". The signatories asked President Macron to amend the draft law such that it only applies to economic competitors.
17 Dec 2018
On 13 December 2018, the implementing decree No. 2018-1126 of 11 December 2018 to protect business secrets (JORF 0288 of 13/12/2018, No. 6) came into force.
06 Aug 2018
On 1 August 2018, the law No. 2018-670 of 30 July 2018 to protect business secrets (JORF 0174 of 31/07/2018, No. 1) came into force.
30 Jul 2018
On 26 July 2018, the Constitutional Council approved the bill, by Decision No. 2018-768 DC of 26/07/2018 Law on the Protection of Business Secrets.
- Article from "Le Monde" (in French): "La loi relative à la protection du secret des affaires est-elle une loi liberticide?"
- Article from Libération (in French): "'Secret des affaires', le jeu de cache-cash des lobbys"
- Article from "Les Echos" (in French): “La loi sur le secret des affaires enfin en vigueur!"
- National Consultative Human Rights Commission (CNCDH) press release (in French): “Secret des affaires: La liberté d’expression et d’information doit rester le principe"
- Directive (EU) 2016/943 of the European Parliament and the Council of 8 June 2016 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (business secrets) against unlawful obtaining, use and disclosure
- Open letter addressed by the SNJ to the President of the Republic : "M. le Président, refusez qu’avec le secret des affaires, le secret ne devienne la règle et les libertés des exceptions "
- Online petition "Ne laissons pas les entreprises dicter l'info - Stop à la Directive Secret des Affaires !"
05 Jun 2018
Reply from the French Authorities (in French)