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One hour for Internet firms to remove terrorist content

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One hour for Internet firms to remove terrorist content


(BRUSSELS) - Internet companies would be forced to remove content promoting terrorism within an hour of being informed, under new EU rules adopted by an EU Parliament committee on Wednesday.

According to the draft legislation, internet companies hosting content uploaded by users (like Facebook or YouTube) that offer their services in the EU will have to remove terrorist content when told to do so by the competent national authority, at the latest within one hour of receiving the order.

The European Parliament adopted its position on this proposal last April and the Civil Liberties Committee has now confirmed it in a vote which means that Parliament and Council negotiators can begin discussions on the final form of the rules.

The move is aimed at combating radicalisation online, and MEPs say it is crucial to remove this content within hours of being published because of how fast it spreads. Companies that systematically and persistently fail to abide by the law could be fined up to 4% of their global turnover.

While the key aim is to boost public security, MEPs are also keen to protect free speech and press freedom. They made it clear that the expression of polemic or controversial views on sensitive political questions should not be considered terrorist content. They also underline that hosting service providers should establish user-friendly complaint mechanisms and ensure that complaints are dealt with promptly and in full transparency.

MEPs also insist that internet companies hosting content uploaded by users, such as Facebook or YouTube, should not be obliged to proactively identify terrorist content, something that these platforms claim would be a heavy burden for them. Monitoring the information or actively seeking facts indicating illegal activity should be the responsibility of the competent national authority.

Parliament also believes that there should be no compulsory use of filters nor automated tools as this could lead to inaccuracies and innocuous content being tagged as "terrorist" .

Practically, under the rules, EU countries would have to designate a competent authority and communicate it to the European Commission, which should then publish a list with all the relevant bodies.

Once the national authorities flag terrorist content, a removal order would be sent to the internet platforms, which would have one hour to delete it or disable access to it in all EU member states.

To help smaller platforms, MEPs propose a sort of prior notice: companies that have never received a removal order should be contacted 12 hours before the first order to remove content is issued and be given information on procedures and deadlines from the competent authority.

Further information

Procedure file

European Commission: regulation proposal

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