The Commission announced in the Digital Single Market Strategy mid-term review that it would publish guidance on illegal content removal by end 2017.
The Communication on "tackling illegal content online, towards enhanced responsibility of online platforms", adopted on 28 September 2017, concerns the removal of illegal content online – incitement to terrorism, illegal hate speech, or child sexual abuse material, as well as infringements of Intellectual Property rights and consumer protection online. The Commission expects online platforms to take swift action over the coming months, in particular in the area of terrorism and illegal hate speech – which is already illegal under EU law, both online and offline.
Online platforms need to exercise a greater responsibility in content governance. The Communication proposes common tools to swiftly and proactively detect, remove and prevent the reapparence of content online:
- Detection and notification: Online platforms should cooperate more closely with competent national authorities, by appointing points of contact to ensure they can be contacted rapidly to remove illegal content.
- Effective removal: Illegal content should be removed as fast as possible, and can be subject to specific timeframes, where serious harm is at stake, for instance in cases of incitement to terrorist acts;
- Prevention of reappearance: Platforms should take measures to dissuade users from repeatedly uploading illegal content. The Commission strongly encourages the further use and development of automatic tools to prevent the reappearance of previously removed content.
The Commission considers that online intermediaries can put in place proactive measures without fearing to lose the liability exemption under the e-Commerce Directive.
The Commission services have conducted several workshops, dialogues with industry and launched an ongoing study on the topic which have provided input into the Communication.
The approach is fully aligned and consistent with the proposed Copyright Directive, including those aspects on the liability of online platforms that are currently widely debated. It is also fully consistent with the proposed revision of the Audio-visual Media Directive.