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Why French people may need to buy a ‘porn pass’ at the tabac to access online pornography

Following a ruling from the French broadcasting authority that online porn sites must do more to verify the age of their customers, users in France face a range of extra checks, including the possibility of having to go to the tabac to buy a 'porn pass'.

Why French people may need to buy a 'porn pass' at the tabac to access online pornography
The tabac is central to life in France. Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The French broadcasting authority CSA has ruled that current age verification checks – which generally amount to little more than checking a box – are inadequate and has put eight porn sites on notice that they must do more or face being blocked in France.

The eight sites, which include international giant Pornhub and the French sites xvideos and Jacquie et Michel, now have two weeks to explain to the regulator the actions they intend to take, and users in France have reported warning notices about imminent closure on some sites’ homepages.

An anti-domestic violence law passed this summer includes a clause about “allowing minors to access sexual content” which allows the CSA to issue legal notices to any site which it considers has insufficient age verification processes.

The offender is liable to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of €75,000, which is multiplied by five for businesses – so sites face a maximum of €375,000 fines. The CSA can also apply for a court order to make a certain site inaccessible to users in France by blocking access from French IP addresses.

It is up to each site to come up with its own age verification process that will satisfy the regulator.

Pornhub has published a list of proposals, which include taking a selfie with age ID, showing a piece of ID to a webcam, making a micro-payment via a bank card or mobile phone or the in-person (and age verified) purchase of a ‘porn pass’ at the tabac which would give a code allowing access to the website.

In France the tabac, as well as selling tobacco, also provides a range of administrative services from paying bills to buying un timbre fiscale which allows you to make payments to the government for taxes or pay fines such as parking fines. 

READ ALSO Why the tabac is essential for life in France – even if you don’t smoke

You can also buy stamps or place a bet.

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ECONOMY

France proposes banning free delivery of online shopping due to environmental impact

A parliamentary report denouncing the environmental impact of online shopping has outlined a series of new measures to regulate deliveries.

France proposes banning free delivery of online shopping due to environmental impact
The report proposes measures including banning free deliveries, and requiring companies selling their products online to disclose the carbon footprint of the delivery options on offer. Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP

The report published on Thursday, written by two senators from the Parti Socialiste and Les Républicains parties and seen by Le Figaro newspaper, aims to reduce the environmental impact caused by the transport of goods.

The measures suggested include banning free deliveries and requiring companies selling their products online to disclose the carbon footprint of the delivery options on offer. 

“In France, nearly 90 percent of the internal transport of goods is carried out by road (…), to the detriment of rail and river freight.

“Twenty-three percent of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions result from heavy goods vehicles and 19 percent from light commercial vehicles,” the report said.

In 2014 a law aimed at supporting small bookstores restricted free deliveries in the online sale of books. Amazon hit back by charging customers just one centime for books dispatched to their homes.

READ ALSO: The French town where local businesses are creating an alternative to Amazon

Accelerated by the pandemic, e-commerce has exploded last year – it represented €112 billion in turnover in France in 2020, according to Le Monde, and 92 percent of French people now shop online. One billion parcels were delivered in 2020, compared to 800 million in 2019.

According to the Agency for ecological transition (Ademe), every online purchase is the equivalent of 12 grams of CO2, the equivalent of driving a car for about 1km.

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