Reuters, September 13, 2018
The unelected European Commission is planning new laws and fines targeting Internet firms like Google, Twitter, and Facebook if they do not censor content they consider illegal within 24 hours.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a speech Wednesday the new rules are for counter-terror and security reasons, although the Commission has repeatedly threatened legislation in the past if “hate speech” is not removed within 24 hours.
The draft proposal insists new laws are needed “to ensure the engagement of all internet platforms and national authorities to protect Europeans online and deny terrorists the ability to spread their propaganda online”.
The EU proposal, however, insists that free speech will be protected. “To mitigate errors, platform providers will need to have a robust and efficient complaints procedure,” the Commission says.
The proposals will now need to be approved by EU lawmakers in the European Parliament and member states before becoming law.
Back in May 2016, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft committed to combatting the spread of “illegal online hate speech” in Europe by signing up to an EU “Code of Conduct”.
In that code, the tech firms also promised to help the EU “criminalise” perpetrators as well as re-educate them by “promoting independent counter-narratives” that Brussels favours.
Thanks to the code, the Commission claimed in March that the “internet companies now remove on average 70 [percent] of illegal hate speech notified to them and in more than 80 [percent] of these cases, the removals took place within 24 hours”.