Big news today in tech media centers on another new European Union law that would require companies to be responsible for taking down terrorism content from platforms within one hour of their posting.
Formal documentation shows this law, if passed by the European legislature, would be effective within a year. It would also have exemptions carved out for types of content including educational content, research content, artistic content and journalism.
A definition provided for the certain types of banned content include material that “provides guidance on how to make and use explosives, firearms and other weapons for terrorist purposes.”
Although reporters never mention a name for this proposal, TechCrunch writer Natasha Lomas cites the Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Sale of Counterfeit Goods, as well as directives from the Commission through the EU Internet Forum on terrorist content online, as precursors.
As mentioned, this new type of legislation could open a can of worms in terms of the balance between protection from harmful content and censorship.
The European Union, of course, has its own history with inflammatory and aggressive movements using content to rise to power. On the other hand, there tends to be a lot of pushback around anything that could be construed as a type of censorship. One way to square the circle would be to explain that while anyone has a right to free speech, the European government is mandating that these public platforms maintain a certain standard for the purpose of public safety.
Still, advocates will persist in criticizing nearly any type of data discrimination, whether it’s algorithm-based or done by a review board. In its own way, this new law would shake up the industry the way that the existing European GDPR has forced American firms and others to put safeguards in place for data handling related to its European customer base. Look for more details as this story emerges.