[Pharos: how the platform works to report illegal content online

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Hateful comments, videos showing violence, supporting terrorism in a post… on websites or social networks, any content deemed illegal can be reported to the Pharos government platform.

A simple way for citizens to report any excess on the web to the authorities. But how can you actually use this platform and how does it work? Explanations.

Anyone can report content to Pharos

Pharos is the report harmonization, analysis, cross-referencing and management platform. Launched by the government in 2009, this platform is used to report illegal online content or behaviour.

Any Internet user who witnesses or is a victim of an online violation can report it to the platform with just a few clicks.

Violence, danger to people, threats or advocacy of terrorism, insult or defamation, incitement to racial hatred or discrimination, attacks on minors: I do not share, I report to PHAROS!

Lighthouse Platform

In 2022, the Pharos platform received 175,924 reports (compared to 263,825 in 2021 and 289,590 in 2020), according to the Home Office's Pharos 2022 report. “This difference is explained in particular by the opening to the public, on March 15, 2022, of the THESEE platform, focused on combating the most important forms of online fraud, which has gathered 54,776 complaints and 13,403 reports in 2022.” explains the ministry.

Regarding the main reports received by Pharos in 2022:

  • 71,279 reports in the area of ​​fraud and extortion or 40.5% of reports.
  • 23,075 in the area of ​​attacks on minors (child pornography, sexual exploitation, etc.), or 13.1% of reports;
  • 12,666 reports in the area of ​​discrimination, or 7.2% of reports.
  • 5,004 reports in the area of ​​terrorism, or 2.8% of reports.

What content is considered illegal?

To use Pharos, it must be “illegal content or conduct, that is, it must be prohibited and punishable by French law,” the platform indicates, clarifying that “Content or conduct that you simply consider immoral or harmful does not have to be reported to us”.

Video: currently on Actu

It must also be “public Internet content, which any Internet user can encounter: a website, a blog, a forum, comments in a 'chat', actions of an anonymous “hidden” in a messaging service. , etc. “.

It shouldn't be a private matter with someone you know, even if they are using the internet to hurt you. In this case, go to a police station or gendarmerie brigade.

Lighthouse

All of the following content is considered illegal and may therefore be reported to Pharos:

  • Risk to individuals (imminent risk of harm to life, suicidal ideation, etc.).
  • Terrorism: terrorist threat or advocacy (propaganda, etc.).
  • Threats or incitement to violence.
  • Pedophilia or corruption of minors on the Internet.
  • Incitement to hatred (because of their origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability).
  • Illegal trafficking (drugs, weapons, etc.).
  • Acts of cruelty to animals (posting on a website or social network videos or images of acts of cruelty committed against animals).
  • Incitement to commit offences.
  • Fraud (online, excluding spam).
  • Insult or defamation.
  • Spam (sent in bulk on the internet, reference www.signal-spam.fr).

Please note that if it is an “emergency situation requiring the intervention of an emergency service (accident, fire, attack, etc.)”, you should prefer to call 17 on your phone.

How to report illegal content

If you come across such content online, you can report it to the Pharos platform, accessible here.

Just click on the blue 'report content' button and then select what the illegal content is about from the list of previously reported content.

You must then describe the illegal content observed, provide the date and time of observation, the platform on which you observed it, and then fill in your personal information before validating your report.

And if the person referring to Faro is also a victim, it is necessary in this case to file a complaint with the police department or the gendarmerie.

An entire team dedicated specifically to the Lighthouse

Once the report is made, it is processed by either a police officer or a constable, assigned to the platform, which is integrated into the “Central Bureau of Crime Linked to Information and Communication Technology (OCCLCTIC). This service belongs to the Central Directorate of Judicial Police, a component of the National Police”, reminds the Ministry of the Interior.

As of the beginning of 2021, 46 researchers and executives have been assigned to the platform and are processing reports 24/7.

Within this platform, police and gendarmes receive, analyze and cross-reference hundreds of thousands of reports in a database to help identify the host, publisher and then author. Researchers also carry out significant monitoring work on social networks.

Ministry of Interior

Three specialized units are dedicated to “justifying, dealing with online hate phenomena and enforcing administrative measures aimed at preventing access to specific content,” the interior ministry says.

Depending on the characterization of the content, the report will be directed to an investigative agency and a criminal investigation may be initiated, under the authority of a prosecutor, and the content may be deleted and its author prosecuted. “If the content reported is illegal, but designed abroad, it is forwarded to Interpol, which directs it to the judicial authorities of the country concerned,” Pharos further elaborates.

Note that while reporting to Pharos can be anonymous, as the platform states, “except in exceptional circumstances, Pharos will not contact you and your data will be retained for two years.”

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