HomeInsightsEuropean Commission proposes new rules to get terrorist content off the internet

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In his State of the Union Address earlier this month, President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker announced new rules to get terrorist content off the web within one hour. Every online platform offering services in the EU will be subject to rules to prevent their services from being misused to disseminate terrorist content. Strong safeguards will also be introduced to protect freedom of speech on the internet and ensure only terrorist content is targeted.

The Commission has been working on a voluntary basis with a number of key stakeholders, including online platforms, Member States and Europol, in order to limit the presence of terrorist content online. Whilst these efforts have brought positive results, the Commission says that overall progress has not been sufficient.

Key features of the new rules include:

  • The one-hour rule: terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours after it appears online because of the speed at which it spreads. The Commission is proposing a legally binding one-hour deadline for content to be removed following a removal order from national authorities;
  • A clear definition of terrorist content: this will describe material that incites or advocates committing terrorist offences, promotes the activities of a terrorist group or provides instruction in techniques for committing terrorist offences;
  • A duty of care obligation: this will apply to all platforms to ensure they are not misused for the dissemination of terrorist content online. Service providers will also be required to take proactive measures, such as the use of new tools, to better protect their platforms and their users from terrorist abuse;
  • Increased cooperation: strengthened co-operation between hosting service providers, Member States and Europol. Service providers and Member States will be required to designate points of contact reachable 24/7 to facilitate the follow up to removal orders and referrals;
  • Strong safeguards: all service providers will have to put in place effective complaint mechanisms. Where content has been removed unjustifiably, the service provider will be required to reinstate it as soon as possible. Effective judicial remedies will also be provided by national authorities and platforms, and content providers will have the right to challenge a removal order. Platforms using automated detection tools will have to put in place human oversight and verification to prevent erroneous removals;
  • Increased transparency and accountability: service providers and Member States will have to provide annual transparency reports on how they tackle terrorist content as well as regular reports on proactive measures taken; and
  • Strong and deterrent financial penalties: Member States will have to put in place effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for not complying with orders to remove online terrorist content. In the event of systematic failures to remove such content following removal orders, a service provider could face financial penalties of up to 4% of its global turnover for the last business year.

To read the Commission’s press release in full and for further information on the proposals, click here.