HomeInsightsEuropean Commission reinforces EU response to illegal content online

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In its Communication of September 2017 on tackling illegal content online, the European Commission promised to monitor progress in tackling illegal content online and assess whether additional measures are needed to ensure the swift and proactive detection and removal of illegal content online, including possible legislative measures to complement the existing regulatory framework.

As a follow-up, the Commission has published a Recommendation including a set of operational measures, accompanied by necessary safeguards, to be taken by companies and Member States to further step up this work before it determines whether it will be necessary to propose legislation. The measures 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 Recommendation builds on the ongoing work with the industry through various voluntary initiatives to ensure that the internet is free of illegal content and reinforces actions taken under different initiatives.

The measures include:

  • clearer “notice and action” procedures;
  • more efficient tools and proactive technologies;
  • stronger safeguards to ensure fundamental rights;
  • closer co-operation within industry; and
  • closer cooperation with authorities.

These measures may differ according to the nature of the illegal content, and the Recommendation encourages companies to follow the principle of proportionality when removing illegal content.

As for increased protection against terrorist content online, the measures include:

  • removal of harmful content within one hour;
  • faster detection and effective removal;
  • improved referral system; and
  • regular reporting from Member States.

The Commission says it will monitor the actions taken in response to this Recommendation and determine whether additional steps, including if necessary legislation, are required.

The Commission says it will also continue its analytical work, working closely with stakeholders, and in this context will launch a public consultation on this matter in the coming weeks.

In order to allow for the monitoring of the effects of the Recommendation, Member States and companies will be required to submit relevant information on terrorist content within three months, and other illegal content within six months. To read the Commission’s press release in full, click here.