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EU to tackle terrorist content online through legislation

Ministry of the Interior 15.11.2018 15.02 | Published in English on 15.11.2018 at 16.07
Press release 131/2018
EU to tackle terrorist content online through legislation

The EU is examining new means to improve detection and removal of online content that incites to terrorist acts. The European Commission is proposing a new regulation to tackle dissemination of terrorist content online. The Commission’s proposal includes obligations on both internet service providers and Member States. On 15 November, the Finnish Government submitted a communication to Parliament on the Commission’s proposal for a regulation.

The Commission proposes that a competent authority, for example the police, could order the service provider to remove terrorist content online. An internet service provider means, for example social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, but also smaller service providers. The service provider should remove the terrorist content or disable access to it within an hour, and inform the authorities of this. The removed content should be preserved for six months for possible review proceedings and for investigative purposes.

According to the proposal, internet service providers are required to take proactive measures to protect their services against the dissemination of terrorist content. Service providers are also required to report on their policy to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content and publish annual reports on action taken. This proposal seeks to establish a clear and harmonised legal framework to tackle terrorist content online without causing any greater interference with fundamental rights than what is necessary. The regulation applies only to terrorist content, it does not apply to hate speech, for example.

Until now, service providers have responded to authorities’ requests to remove terrorist content on a voluntary basis. According to the Commission, voluntary arrangements have not, however, been sufficient because not all service providers have taken part in them. The scale and pace of the actions have not been sufficient either.

The Commission considers that recent terrorist attacks have demonstrated how terrorists misuse the internet to plan terrorist attacks, recruit supporters, prepare terrorist activity and instil fear in the general public. This misuse of the internet highlights the societal responsibility of internet platforms to protect their users from exposure to terrorist content and the grave security risks this content entails for society at large.

Inquiries:
Johanna Puiro, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 584, johanna.puiro@intermin.fi