February 1, 2011

French Rules on Whistleblower Hotlines are Changing

As many of you operating globally know, the laws and regulations in differing countries can prove tricky to navigate. There have been changes recently in the way an organization can operate whistleblower hotlines in France that will be of interest to our multinational clients. In October 2010, the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libert├ęs (or CNIL), the French data privacy regulatory body, amended the “single authorization” method for whistleblower hotlines. The amendments included both a clarification and broadening of the scope of acceptable issues organizations can receive through the hotline and still be in compliance with the single authorization.

The October amendments removed the ability to capture issues of “vital interests [to] the company or moral or physical integrity of the employees.” However, the CNIL did broaden the scope of reportable issue types to include issues related to anti-competition practices, Sarbanes-Oxley and Japanese SOX. Accordingly, the CNIL clarified that the single authorization method will allow reporting on all of the following: finance/accounting, banking, fight against corruption, anti-competitive practices and compliance with Section 301(4) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Japanese Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.

An organization has six (6) months (beginning December 8, 2010) to modify their system to be in line with these new single authorization rules, or apply for formal consideration of their hotline through the CNIL. Operation of a whistleblower hotline outside the scope of the single authorization or without formal approval from the CNIL on a broader scope, puts organizations at risk for criminal sanctions and hefty fines. These criminal sanctions and fines may be issued by the CNIL and the French courts have the authority, in civil litigation, to multiply these sanctions up to 5 times.

For more information, please see the following from the IAPP (requires membership in IAPP to access). Or this article from the Global Regulatory Enforcement Law Blog.

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About Me


David Childers
President
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of EthicsPoint


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Favorite Quotes:

Ronald Reagan
There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.

John Quincy Adams
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

Aristotle
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

Ray Kroc
The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.

John Maxwell
The first step to leadership is servanthood.