The law is clear; what is illegal offline is illegal online. And a bevy of European laws – such as the directive on combating terrorism (2017) and the directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography (2011) – have been promulgated over the years, requiring platforms to remove illegal content "expeditiously," in the words of the electronic commerce directive, (2000) once they are notified or in some other way become aware of its existence.
The crackdown on terrorism has emerged as the cutting-edge for issues arising from the global reach of Internet platforms, large and small.
National governments have laws and law-enforcement bodies. But terrorism is quite often global – with operations in one country being planned to disrupt life in another. The Internet provides a convenient network for terrorists to share content, recruit and even communicate across borders – unless they are prevented from doing so. The result is an evident need to cooperate globally.
Few issues are as contentious as the role and spread of "disinformation" on social media and Internet platforms.
First and foremost is the thorny question of how disinformation can best be identified and when platforms should be required to block and/or remove content. The issue touches upon core questions of free speech and political expression. And has led to a plethora of confused policies and stop-start initiatives. According to a recent "code of conduct" agreed in 2018 with platform-industry input, platforms must remove any content that "may cause public harm" or poses "threats to democratic political and policymaking processes as well as public goods such as the protection of European Union citizens’ health, the environment or security." But the same agreement excludes a ban on "misleading advertising, reporting errors, satire and parody, or clearly identified partisan news and commentary."
Average Monthly Facebook Interactions for Prominent French News Sites and Some of The Most Popular False News Sites (2017)
Average Monthly Reach of Prominent French News Sites and Some of The Most Popular False News Sites (2017)
Average Monthly Reach of Prominent Italian News Sites and Some of The Most Popular False News Sites (2017)
The European approach to regulating and moderating the spread of hate speech online represents an interesting experiment in public-private collaboration.
A triad of normally unaffiliated institutions sit at the middle of this effort. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – particularly organisations with a background in promoting tolerance and fighting discrimination – are empowered to follow what happens on the platforms and "notify" content which they believe constitutes illegal hate speech. The platforms, in turn, evaluate 1) the notifications, 2) the local laws of the countries where a particular piece of content appears, and 3) their own community standards and guidelines. Based on that assessment, they decide if the content should be allowed to stay or taken down. Later the NGOs produce a report evaluating how much of the content they notified was taken down. The European Commission sits in the middle of the process – facilitating communication among the parties and providing periodic assessments of how much hate speech is slipping through despite the effort.
Assessment of Manifestations of Anti-Semitism Against Jewish Community (Average of Selected European Union Member States)
Assessment of Manifestations of Anti-Semitism Against Jewish Community Across European Union Countries
Awareness of a Law That Forbids Discrimination Based on Skin Colour, Ethnic Origin or Religion in Nine European Union Member States (2016)
Copyright is an exclusive and assignable legal right awarded to the originator of a literary, scientific or artistic work for a fixed number of years. In North America, the system works based on registrations; authors must register a copyrighted work with the U.S. Library of Congress to claim protection; permission for others to re-use or cite the work is granted based on "fair use" – a definition left deliberately open and subject to interpretation by courts. In the European Union, copyright protection is granted automatically to a content creator from the moment a work is produced.