The European Union (EU) has signed off on proposals to make companies such as Facebook and Twitter remove videos containing ‘hate speech’.
The proposals for stronger internet regulation, which would be the first EU-level legislation on the issue, would establish a universal set of video content censorship rules that social media companies would be forced to follow.
“We need to take into account new ways of watching videos, and find the right balance to encourage innovative services, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way,” said Andrus Ansip, EU Commission vice-president for the Digital Single Market.
Tuesday’s agreement, which would see videos which contain “expressions of racism and xenophobia” wiped from media companies’ websites, came a day after a suicide bomber killed 22 people in Manchester. According to Euractiv, ministers offered their condolences to the British delegation at the meeting.
The proposals would also require on-demand services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix to devote at least 30 per cent of their libraries to European films and TV shows, and services could additionally be made to contribute financially to the production of films and TV shows in EU states in which they are established.
Though the European Parliament will have to vote on the proposals before they become law, MEPs have been vocal in demanding measures to crack down on so-called hate speech.
In February, EU lawmakers introduced new rules enabling Brussels to wipe populist speeches from the system without citizens ever knowing that they had taken place.
The unprecedented move gave the president the power to pull the plug on speakers deemed offensive during live broadcasts of parliamentary debates, and to purge offending audiovisual material from the record.
Under Rule 165 of the parliament’s rules of procedure, the chair of debates is able to halt the live broadcast “in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a member”.
Gerolf Annemans, from Belgium’s populist Vlaams Belang party, expressed concern that the rule “can be abused by those who have hysterical reactions to things that they qualify as racist, xenophobic, when people are just expressing politically incorrect views”.