EU Set to Legislate on Terror Content

The European Commission looks set to force social networks to take down terror content within one hour, in light of the apparent failure of self-regulation.

Security commissioner, Julian King, told the FT on Sunday that he had “not seen enough progress” from the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter on the issue since voluntary guidelines were tightened back in March.

“We cannot afford to relax or become complacent in the face of such a shadowy and destructive phenomenon,” he claimed.

At that time, the Commission had promised to review the guidelines in three months and draw up legislation if it felt self-regulation wasn’t working.

Part of the challenge appears to be the lack of consistency in how such material is handed depending on the content platform involved.

“The difference in size and resources means platforms have differing capabilities to act against terrorist content and their policies for doing so are not always transparent,” said King. “All this leads to such content continuing to proliferate across the internet, reappearing once deleted and spreading from platform to platform.”

However, the report claimed that even inside the Commission, there are some who believe self-regulation has actually been very successful.

Google has claimed that over 90% of terror content was automatically flagged and removed from its popular YouTube platform with half of the videos garnering fewer than 10 views. Facebook has also claimed success, saying 1.9 million pieces of content promoting Isis and al-Qaeda was detected in the first quarter of 2018.

It’s believed the hard line from Brussels may be part of an attempt to head off unilateral action from some EU member states.

Germany has already passed a hate speech law which mandates social networks take down “obviously illegal” content, including fake news, terror posts and racist material, within an hour or risk a €50m fine.

The European Commission proposals reportedly being drafted would need to pass the European Parliament and gain approval from the majority of member states to become law.

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