The fifth annual meeting of the EU Internet Forum has produced a terrorism Crisis Protocol to address the spread of viral terrorist content online.
The development of an EU-wide terrorism Crisis Protocol was first announced in response to the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand in March, when an attacker murdered 50 people at two mosques while broadcasting live on Facebook. In the wake of the attacks, Facebook and other social media platforms received extensive criticism over the widespread distribution of the video footage and the gunman’s manifesto.
Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “The events in New Zealand earlier this year were a stark reminder that terrorist content spreads online at a tremendous speed. While our response might be quick, it isn’t quick enough. The protocol is an EU response to contain the havoc created by such events – in a coordinated way.”
Along with the European Commission and EU Member States, the terrorism Crisis Protocol, will be adopted by a number of online service providers, including Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter. The main elements of the protocol are:
- Ensuring rapid, co-ordinated action to remove terrorist content from online platforms and contain the spread of terrorist material;
- Facilitating co-operation and – where relevant – data sharing between the public and private sectors in the event of a crisis; and
- Emphasising the voluntary aspect of the terrorism Crisis Protocol, which is not aimed to replace existing crisis management mechanisms or legal frameworks: instead, it is designed to apply solely in ‘extraordinary’ situations where existing arrangements are not sufficient to enable swift cross-border and inter-sector co-ordination.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: “Since I launched the EU Internet Forum four years ago, it has gone from strength to strength, offering Member States and online platforms an effective framework to work together to tackle terrorist content online. We have managed to build a strong relationship of trust and mutual understanding with the internet platforms. I am pleased with the progress we are making and the remarkable results we have achieved. Today, we are taking this cooperation another step further with an EU Crisis Protocol. With this, we will be ready to act quickly, effectively and in a more coordinated way to stop the spread of terrorist content.”