Published: Sat, March 03, 2018
Industry | By Dora Warner

Internet giants told to remove hate material

Internet giants told to remove hate material

And the European Union says it will pursue formal regulations if this softer tactic doesn't prove effective.

"While several platforms have been removing more illegal content than ever before ... we still need to react faster against terrorist propaganda and other illegal content which is a serious threat to our citizens' security, safety and fundamental rights", said Digital commissioner Andrus Ansip in a press release.

The new operational measures are particularly focused on terrorist content with a one-hour rule coming into force that calls on internet companies to remove extremist material within sixty minutes of being alerted to it.

Several governments have increased pressure on social media companies to do more to remove illegal content, including material related to ISIS and the incitement to commit atrocities.

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"Terrorist content online poses a particularly grave risk to the security of Europeans, and its proliferation must be treated as a matter of the utmost urgency", the commission said in a statement, and urged the removal of all terror threats and propaganda within one hour of detection. Web companies should also have humans oversee the content-removal process, particularly when automated tools are used, to ensure the takedowns aren't excessive.

Nevertheless, Facebook said that it shares the European Commission's goal.

The guidelines aren't legally binding, but courts could use the framework as a legal reference in the future.

"These recommendations apply to all forms of illegal content ranging from terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, counterfeit products and copyright infringement", the EC said. This is the latest in the EU's efforts to tackle illegal content.

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According to WSJ, tech companies are wary the guidelines may infringe on freedom of expression.

The Commission has said that it will continue to work with social network, review their performances in regards to the new guidelines and later determine if additional steps are necessary, such as legislation.

Civil rights group European Digital Rights described the commission's approach as putting Internet giants in charge of censoring Europe.

"We need to monitor that is taken down from one space and make sure it doesn't pop up elsewhere, even when content is automatically deleted", said Gabriel.

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In its guidelines, the European Union also called on tech companies to fast-track the processing of terror material flagged by law enforcement officials and to report any evidence of a serious criminal offence to the authorities. Illegal content is deleted from larger servers but then reappears on small and medium-sized platforms.

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