A decree for the application of the French law “Loi pour une république numérique” and concerning the secrecy of correspondence (Article 68 of the Law) was published in the Official Journal on 30 March 2017.
Under the law and decree, electronic communication service providers must seek the express consent of users when they wish to analyze the content of their correspondence for advertising, statistical or service improvement purposes.
Such consent shall be renewed annually.
1.The principle of confidentiality of correspondence

Under French law, the content of communications, i.e. correspondence between two individuals, is confidential and the obligation to ensure secrecy rests with telecommunication service providers.

However, the secrecy of correspondence may be lifted with the consent of the persons concerned

2.Perimeter of confidentiality of correspondence

The secrecy of correspondence covers the identity of correspondents, content, title and attachments

3.Who is concerned by these new obligations?

“Operators” and “providers of online public communication services”, i.e. any actor allowing two people to correspond online.

This includes e-mail, social networking, synchronous communication (VoIP) providers, etc.

4.Under what conditions can telecommunication service providers use the content of private correspondence ?

When they want to analyse the content of correspondences for purposes other than to provide the services related to the delivery of messages, sorting of messages and other security-related obligations (spam, malicious program), these service providers shall obtain the express consent of the users and may obtain it only for the following purposes only:

  • The improvement of the communication service to the public online,
  • The production of statistics,
  • The use of the data for advertising purposes.

This consent is specific to each processing purpose and must be renewed annually.

For processing carried out before the publication of the decree, consent must be obtained within 6 months of its publication.


France : Online communication service providers to seek users’ express consent to use the content of their correspondance

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