Court: Paris Court of Appeal
Date Filed: March 23, 2021
Background: In 2016, cybercriminals launched an attack on a French construction company by disseminating a forged press release in the company’s name to news organizations, including Bloomberg.
Along with other targeted media outlets, Bloomberg began publishing information from the release on its website. Minutes after publication, however, Bloomberg identified the release as a forgery and immediately corrected the mistake.
While the perpetrators of the hoax were never identified or prosecuted, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), a French financial regulatory agency, held that Bloomberg had violated Articles 12, 15, and 21 of France’s Market Abuse Regulation and imposed a fine of €5 million. Bloomberg then appealed to the Paris Court of Appeal.
Our Position: The ruling and fine levied against Bloomberg contravenes free speech principles, as enshrined in U.S. and international law.
- AMF’s argument misinterprets Article 21 of France’s Market Abuse Regulation, a clause meant to protect — not burden — journalists’ rights.
- By allowing the AMF to impose its own editorial standards, the court could set a dangerous precedent of independent authorities directly infringing press freedoms.
- The fine of €5 million is grossly disproportionate and would, if upheld, have a chilling effect on financial reporting.
The Reporters Committee is very grateful for the support of WilmerHale attorneys, who represented the media coalition pro bono in filing the Letter of Support.