Web & Tech

EU Hate Speech Deal: Pressure over Internet Illegal Content Blocking

Four leading US Internet companies on Tuesday May 31 2016, settled to block illegal hate speech from their platforms in Europe with 24 hours EU Hate Speech Deal: Pressure over Internet Illegal Content Blocking

Four leading US Internet companies on Tuesday, May 31 2016, settled to block illegal hate speech from their platforms in Europe with 24 hours. The EU hate speech deal indicates that the firms find themselves in a tight corner; as it ensures pressure over Internet content blocking continue to mount. 

According to the code of conduct, Google’s YouTube, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter will have to review hate speech reports and either disable access to the content or remove them within 24 hours. The action was influenced by a surge in anti-Semitic, pro-Islamic State, and anti-immigrant comments on social media.

People with an interest in having certain types of content removed from the Internet will find the EU hate speech deal interesting. Here are some of its components.

Policing Online Content

The European Union agreement stipulates that Internet companies should be the arbiters of the speech that is legal in each country. Besides, the deal threatens to obscure the distinction between an illegal content and materials that are legal but the companies’ terms of service prohibit. A policy leader in Europe for Access Now, Estelle Masse, is of the opinion that the commission’s remedy is to call for the firms to execute the work of the authorities. She has noted that after companies accept to take swift action, they will, as anticipated, review it both for terms of service violations and legal violations. Masse also added that the code of conduct gives terms of service preeminence over national law.

The EU deal also expands the responsibility of civil society organizations in reporting hate speech. Despite the possibility of governments making formal legal requests for the removal of illegal online content, the use of the reporting devices that allows users to "flag" content for review is a more common mechanism.

Dangerous Precedent

Free speech advocates are concerned that the code would pressure companies to remove any content they consider illegal without following the due process. The EU code fails to address the differences in laws in different jurisdiction to determine legality of speeches. Google need to apply the right to be forgotten to review removal requests as it is essential to ascertain whether they contain "irrelevant" or "excessive information." 

Google’s transparency report shows that since the law requiring companies to block illegal content went into effect in 2014, the company has reviewed 1, 522,636 URLs and removed the links in 43 percent of the instances. Nonetheless, the company and the three others will implement the EU hate speech deal to ensure no hate speech cases are available on their platforms.

[picture: wearetribu .com]

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