The European Commission (EC) has issued guidelines and recommendations for the removal of “illegal content” that appears online and wants tech companies and social platforms to remove any terrorist propaganda and violent material within one hour after being notified.
Combating extremist content online has been a major talking point during the last 18 months, and while the EC said it recognises that tech corporations are doing their best to remove illegal videos and articles quickly, it claimed further improvements must be made as online platforms are often people’s “main gateway to information”.
The “one-hour rule” is part of a new set of voluntary recommendations which have not been passed into law but can reportedly be used in judicial proceedings. The EU added that “formal regulation” would be pursued if the new guidelines do not prove effective.
In addition to the one-hour window, which will begin when a tech enterprise receives a report or takedown notice, other measures will be put in place to make the process of removal more efficient. This includes the use of better tools and tech, clearer ‘notice and action’ procedures and closer cooperation with authorities.
The EC added that the guidelines should not be seen as a “one-size fits all” approach as measures may need to differ depending on the nature of the illegal content. While the measures should clean up online platforms, European free speech advocates claim the latest move is a form of “voluntary censorship” and places too much power in the hands of Google and Facebook.