On 28 September, the European Commission has presented a guideline for online platforms to tackle illegal content more effectively. The content refers to inciting hatred, violence, and terrorist propaganda. The aim of the guideline and accompanying principles is to increase the prevention, detection and removal of illegal content online. President Juncker touched upon this issue earlier in the Letter of Intent accompanying his State of the Union.
Currently, a harmonised and coherent approach to the removal of illegal content does not exist in the EU. The new guidelines call on online platforms to further boost their efforts to prevent the spread of illegal content. Online platforms carry an increasing societal responsibility in protecting users and society, and preventing criminals from exploiting the online space. According to Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, “the situation is not sustainable: in more than 28% of cases, it takes more than one week for online platforms to take down illegal content.”
The guidelines are a first step and the Commission expects online platforms to take swift action over the coming months. The Commission calls on enhanced cooperation with national authorities. Those who fail to apply the principles can be subjected to stricter rules or sanctions. Companies will have until May 2018 to apply the new measurements. After carefully monitoring the progress, the Commission will assess whether legislative measures are necessary to complement the existing regulatory framework.