Commission to discuss illegal online content

Věra Jourová © Annika Haas
Věra Jourová © Annika Haas

Five European Commissioners will meet in Brussels tomorrow to discuss the efforts being made by representatives of online platforms to tackle the spread of illegal online content.

The commissioners – Dimitris Avramopoulos, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Věra Jourová, Julian King and Mariya Gabriel – will discuss the removal of online terrorist propaganda, xenophobic or racist content, hate speech, breaches of intellectual property rights and other illegal online content. They will also discuss progress that has already been made in this effort.

In a joint statement ahead of the meeting, the commissioners said: “Terrorist propaganda and content that incites violence and hatred online is a serious threat to security, safety and fundamental rights. It demands a collective response – from all actors, including the internet industry.”

What efforts have online platforms made?

The commissioners used the statement to welcome the efforts that have already been made to prevent illegal online content, and outlined their priorities for how platforms can increase their efforts and become more efficient at removing this content: “In recent years, online platforms have significantly increased the resources they devote to removing violent and extremist content as soon as possible, including through automated removal.”

However, the group warned that a greater commitment is needed from online platforms to remove the large volume of illegal online content that has not been removed. “Even if tens of thousands of pieces of illegal content have been taken down, there are still hundreds of thousands more out there. And removal needs to be speedy: the longer illegal material stays online, the greater its reach, the more it can spread and grow. Building on the current voluntary approach, more efforts and progress have to be made.”

At the meeting, the commission will take the opportunity to recommend closer co-operation between social media companies and national enforcement authorities, and discuss further potential approaches, including the possibility of additional legislation to complement the existing regulatory framework.

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