The unelected executive branch of the European Union (EU) has ordered social media and tech firms like Facebook to delete content it considers “illegal” within one hour, as they ramp up efforts to censor the Internet.
The EU insists they are focusing on “terrorist” content. However, when Germany introduced a similar ‘delete in 24 hours’ law on January 1st this year, it resulted in satire and some right-wing opinions being removed.
Critics say the short period of time given for removal and the threat of escalation means tech firms are overly cautious and mistakenly deleting content, causing a wider chilling effect on free speech as people become wary of sharing legitimate views.
The EU’s latest recommendations are non-binding but could be taken into account by European courts and are designed to pressure the tech firms. Over the coming three months, the Commission will decide if “legislation” is needed to force tech firms into action.
In their ultimatum issued on Thursday, the unelected European Commission insisted their recommendations applied only to illegal online material, including terrorist manuals, incitement to hatred, child sexual abuse images, and copyrighted content.
However, in a “fact sheet” about the Commission’s fight against “illegal online content”, also published Thursday, it said “hate speech” and “xenophobic or racist” speech would also be targeted, without defining these categories or clarifying criticism of mass migration and radical Islam would be allowed. – READ MORE