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April 24, 2017

EU looks legislative measures to harmonise hate speech take down

Companies say they are not liable for content posted by users on their platforms.

By CBR Staff Writer

The European Union (EU) is reportedly considering legislative measures to unify the approaches of all online platforms in taking down hate speech on the internet.

Reuters reported that the European Union aims to bring together Google, Facebook, Twitter and other websites’ ways of dealing with the problem.

The European Commission said in a draft policy paper that there is a “high degree of variation in the approaches taken to removal of illegal content – be it incitement to terrorism, hate speech, child sexual abuse material, or infringements of intellectual property rights”.

“Such divergences may be justified in some cases (e.g. for certain types of illegal content); but in other cases they reduce the effectiveness of the system (e.g. by delaying the removal of terrorist propaganda).”

The commission said that it will come up with legislative and/or non-legislative measures by the end of this year for addressing legal fragmentation and uncertainty associated to the removal of illegal content by online platforms.

The draft policy paper says that EU executive is evaluating options to clarify the role of online platforms without impinging on the liability exemption.

“The Commission considers that a more transparent and predictable environment would create incentives for platforms to adopt proactive measures to maintain a healthy online ecosystem.” Facebook

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According to Reuters, one EU official stated that the Commission was considering to adopt a so-called good Samaritan principle whereby online platforms would not be held liable for content if they actively searched for illegal content on their websites, expecting that the move would make companies more proactive.

Last month, Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been warned by German and British lawmakers that they are not doing enough to police hate speech.

Germany introduced a law, which allows to fine social media companies $53.62m for failing to remove hate postings quickly.

The UK’ s Home Affairs select committee claimed that given the billions of dollars that Facebook, Twitter, and Google, have at their disposal, they have a ‘terrible reputation’ and were making money from ‘peddling hate’.

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