European Commission welcomes political agreement on removing terrorist content online

December 18, 2020

The European Commission has welcomed the political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the proposal for a Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. Once adopted, the Regulation aims to ensure that online platforms play a more active role in detecting terrorist content online and that such content is removed within a maximum period of one hour. The new law also aims to help to counter the spread of extremist ideologies online, which the Commission says is a vital part of preventing attacks and addressing radicalisation. The proposed rules are a key part of the Commission’s Counter-Terrorism Agenda.

The key elements of the new regulation include:

  • The one-hour rule: Terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours after its appearance. The new rules would oblige online platforms to stop the dissemination of such content as early as possible.
  • EU cross-border effects of removal orders: Removal orders can be sent by any member states to any online platform established within the EU.
  • A definition of terrorist content in line with the existing Directive on combating terrorism. There will be an exemption for content disseminated for educational, journalistic, artistic or research purposes. The exemption will also apply to content disseminated to raise awareness against terrorist activity.
  • Complaint mechanisms so that content that has been removed erroneously can be reinstated as soon as possible.
  • Strengthened co-operation between national authorities and Europol to facilitate follow-up to removal orders.
  • Obligations for service providers to address proactively the misuse of their services for the dissemination of terrorist content online.
  • Transparency and accountability to be guaranteed by annual transparency reports.
  • An ability for member states to sanction non-compliance and to decide on the level of penalties, which should be proportionate to the nature and size of the platforms to alleviate the burden and penalties for small, medium and micro enterprises.

Next steps

The Regulation must now be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, in line with their respective roles and procedures. 

The proposed regulation comes as the UK government publishes its proposed online harms measures, including interim codes of practice for platforms to deal with child abuse and terrorism