April 30 2021 – Brussels
Following last week’s adoption of the EU Regulation to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online by the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs), the Regulation has now been adopted by the Plenary in second reading, without a final vote.
Malcolm Hutty, Chair of the Intermediary Liability Committee, commented: “While we welcome several improvements in the final text, EuroISPA regrets the inclusion of an inflexible one-hour timeframe to execute removal orders. Forcing companies to move too fast will inevitably impair the quality of decisions and will risk inappropriate removals of legitimate content and mis-use of the system. This will be especially problematic for smaller businesses without previous experience of encountering terrorist content, who will not have pre-existing relationships with anti-terrorist police and awareness of good practice guidance.”
EuroISPA also notes that the text could be attacked at the domestic level leading to legal uncertainty for service providers. For instance, the final Regulation contains provisions which are similar to the rules established by the French Law on tackling hate speech online (so called “Avia law”), which were declared to be unconstitutional by the French Constitutional Council in 2020.
At the same time, EuroISPA notes some important positive changes in the final text. For instance, penalties determined by Member States will need to take into account the nature and size of the hosting service provider, mitigating risks of high sanctions for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). “It was important that the regulation does not stipulate obligations to use automatic tools and pursue active content monitoring. However, we will have to observe how the relevant rules will turn out in practice”, said Malcolm Hutty.
Going forward, EuroISPA’s national members will maintain a constructive dialogue with their respective Competent Authorities and will keep tackling terrorist content online efficiently and responsibly, in order to ensure a safe Internet for EU citizens and businesses.