European Commission pressures Google, Facebook and Twitter to illegal content

Vastavam web: The European Commission on Thursday outlined how firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter should remove illegal content more quickly from the Web, increasing pressure on the companies to do more.The spread of illegal content on the Web, whether because it infringes copyright, involves counterfeit goods or contains threatening material, has sparked a heated debate in Europe between those who want online media firms to do more to tackle it and those who fear it could impinge on free speech.
“The rule of law applies online just as much as offline. We cannot accept a digital Wild West, and we must act,” said EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova.The companies have recently stepped up efforts to tackle the problem, agreeing to an EU code of conduct to remove hate speech within 24 hours and forming a global working group to combine their efforts in removing illegal content from their platforms.
The guidelines call on the companies to appoint points of contact so they can be rapidly alerted about illegal content and work with trusted flaggers – experts in identifying such content.Existing EU legislation says internet platforms should not be liable for the content that is posted on their websites by users, limiting how far policymakers can force companies, who are not required to actively monitor what goes online, to act.The Commission said it would monitor companies’ progress and could come forward with legislation by next Spring if it is not satisfied.
The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represents companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook, welcomed the Commission’s guidelines.However some politicians criticised the Commission’s call for more automatic detection technologies, saying it would restrict the flow of information online.Sky welcomed the guidelines saying they made clear that online platforms needed to provide greater protection against illegal content.