Brussels, 27 June 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen
Welcome to this Senior Officials' meeting of the EU Internet Forum.
We are witnessing an escalation in attacks against our Union.
With each life taken, each injury sustained, it is becoming painfully evident, that tolerance of terrorists' abuse of the internet cannot, and must not, continue.
There is an urgent need to do more.
Today's meeting is crucial.
In this Forum, since we started working together in 2015, our greatest achievement is the trust we established.
We built this voluntary partnership on openness, confidence in each other, and a shared commitment.
Now the time has come to take this commitment one step further.
Step up our action to achieve greater impact on the ground.
I am of course not alone in calling for more action.
Just last week, the European heads of state in the European Council, recalled the responsibility of the internet industry, and demanded urgent action to tackle this problem.
The G7 leaders had done the same shortly before.
You all acknowledge that terrorist propaganda should have no place on the Internet.
It is now time for action.
I was encouraged yesterday to see the announcement of the major platforms on a new Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.
This is very much welcome, because it is first of all your responsibility to take the steps necessary to fight terrorism on your platforms.
But it is also OUR joint effort, which started two years ago here in this EU Internet Forum that now becomes the model for the global initiative.
We are fully on board with this initiative, and we will work to support it as active partners in every way we can.
Radicalisation and terrorism do not stop at national or EU borders. The challenge is global.
I am sure you will agree with me, that our discussions here, will continue to feed into a more global effort to remove terrorist content from the internet, and to create positive alternative narratives.
I urge you all to make the most of the impact this Forum brings to bear, and I encourage you, to use today's meeting to be as open and as concrete as possible on the way forward.
Use today's meeting in a constructive way to contribute to the global discussion.
The insights we gather from this partnership will be the best guide for the future.
For instance on referrals and removals.
Over 30,000 pieces of material have been referred since we set up this partnership in 2015.
In the big majority of cases, this material is swiftly removed.
We can do more to make the removals process swifter, lighter, more efficient.
I know also from my mission to Silicon Valley that automated tools are being developed to enable the automated identification of terrorist material.
You, the internet platforms yourselves, are best placed to undertake these efforts.
Your statement yesterday was clear that you will move forward on developing new content detection techniques using machine learning.
This is very much a step in the right direction.
The same applies also to widening and deepening the use of the database of hashes.
Today you should discuss important questions, such the amount and types of data that goes in the database, the speed of the removals, the effectiveness of the tool, and its availability to smaller companies.
These will be important insights to guide the discussions in the global forum also.
Then there is the issue of expanding the membership of this Forum – especially with smaller companies.
I am pleased to hear that some smaller companies are willing to join the database of hashes.
I am also glad to see new faces around the table today.
This is good news, and I hope the bigger companies will facilitate their entry into the partnership.
Last but not least, is the issue of being effective with alternative narratives online.
I am aware that there are a number of initiatives underway – including our own Civil Society Empowerment Programme.
I am grateful to the large companies for all the help and training they have provided thus far to our Programme.
Here again, the more we do together, the more effective we will be.
Let's join forces, in this Forum and globally.
Some say that we need to make sure this happens with tough legislation to enforce compliance.
I still prefer to continue working together on the basis of our shared commitment, and the trust we established.
Because what counts is protecting our citizens and saving lives --
While respecting your exciting and innovative business models, the civil liberties of your users, and the values of our democracies.
And I know that we see eye to eye on this.
From our side, I can assure you that in us, you will continue to have reliable partners for the way forward – both in Europe and globally.