New EC Guidelines - Tackling Illegal Content Online

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A new set of guidelines and principles has been issued by the European Commission (EC) that offer an approach for online platforms in the removal of illegal online content with some clarity on liability.

Entitled ‘Communication on Tackling Illegal Content Online - Towards an enhanced responsibility of online platforms’, the document states “This Communication lays down a set of guidelines and principles for online platforms to step up the fight against illegal content online in cooperation with national authorities, Member States and other relevant stakeholders.”

Whilst there is much focus on, hate speech, violence and terrorism in these guidelines, there is reference to intellectual property rights and includes many positive messages to encourage internet and social media firms to proactively prevent, identify, and remove offending content in a faster and more efficient way.  

Key expected measure are:

  • online platforms to establish an easily accessible and user-friendly mechanism to allow users to flag illegal content
  • close cooperation between online platforms and trusted flaggers
  • notices from trusted flaggers to be fast-tracked by the platforms
  • measures to be taken against repeat infringers with technology being used to prevent the re-appearance of illegal content
  • broader transparency measures introduced, including the number and speed of take-down

The Commission will continue working on this until May 2018 and state that over this time, they “intend to monitor progress and assess whether additional measures are needed, in order to ensure the swift and proactive detection and removal of illegal content online, including possible legislative measures to complement the existing regulatory framework.”

The EC released a statement about the new guidelines and a question and answers fact sheet.

If you would like to know how these guidlines affect you, please contact us.