EU to order online platforms to remove terrorist propaganda

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The authorities in EU countries will be able to order internet platforms to delete posts with terrorist content within an hour. On Thursday, representatives of the member states and the European Parliament agreed to support a new regulation strengthening countries’ powers in the fight against terrorism.
The rules, which implement a joint approach across the EU, have yet to be approved by the representatives of the governments and the plenary of the EP.
The new regulation, which was swiftly called for in response to the recent terrorist attacks in France and Austria, is intended to make it impossible, for example, to coordinate attacks or publish instructions for making explosives. Under the new rules, member states’ authorities will have the power to require social network operators and other online platforms to delete or suspend posts with terrorist content within an hour of being asked to do so. At the same time, the authorities of one country will be able to use this tool for the entire EU territory.
“Terrorists use videos – and sometimes even live streaming – of their attacks as a recruitment tool. Stopping terrorist propaganda is key for our work against radicalization,” Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said praising the agreement on the rules proposed by the European Commission.
Critics of such interference in the online world fear that the regulation could, for example, interfere with the work of journalists and automatically remove any mention of terrorism. Another debate about the new rules concerned the question of how to ensure that some governments would not use regulations to limit the freedom of speech of their opponents.
“Investigating or writing about terrorism must not be prevented. In its negotiating stance, Parliament has rejected filters that would erase content and thus prevent legitimate content from spreading simply because the automatic device misinterpreted it,” said Marcel Kolaja, EP vice-president.
According to him, it is right that the mandatory use of automatic filters has disappeared from the original proposal. However, the deadline of one hour for deleting the content remains problematic, as it can cause existential difficulties, for example, for small companies with a small number of employees.
To avoid unnecessary restrictions on freedom of expression, the regulation also includes the possibility of restoring access to the removed content if it is evaluated as harmless after a further review. Businesses will also need to publish and justify an annual overview of the steps they have taken against terrorist content.
The new rules are part of the EU’s common counter-terrorism strategy, which the Commission updated on Wednesday. The plan introduces, among other things, improved police cooperation between member countries, including easier access to coded terrorist communications.
Title image: In this Feb. 8, 2018, file photo, the logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Five technology giants reported mixed earnings results Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, a sign of varying fortunes as they try to rebound from a pandemic-related economic slowdown earlier this year. While all five — Amazon, Google parent Alphabet, Facebook, Apple and Twitter — exceeded analyst expectations, gloomy forecasts and other uncertainties led to share-price declines for all but Alphabet in after-market trading. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

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