The EU Commission has warned social media companies Facebook and Twitter that if they don’t comply with EU law, they could face heavy regulation.
The Register reports that the EU commission has warned social media companies Facebook and Twitter that if they continue to ignore EU laws relating to content on their platforms they could face heavy government regulation. The commission issued a statement saying that “social media platforms” must do more to remove “illegal content inciting hatred, violence, and terrorism online.”
The EU Commission stated that social media companies should employ dedicated points of contact for law enforcement agencies and state bodies to interface with about illegal content hosted on social media. The EU also believes that the companies should invest in “automatic detection technologies” to catch illegal content on their platform quicker, illegal content should also be required to be deleted within “specific timeframes.”
The EU has called for such regulation in the past but later in their statement, the EU takes a much harsher stance again the social media companies saying, “Today’s communication is a first step and follow-up initiatives will depend on the online platforms’ actions to proactively implement the guidelines. The Commission will carefully monitor progress made by the online platforms over the next months and assess whether additional measures are needed.”
This is essentially the EU threatening social media companies that if they don’t comply with EU laws, new laws will be put in place that could harm the companies. EU commissioner Vera Jourova added in a statement, “The rule of law applies online just as much as offline. We cannot accept a digital Wild West, and we must act. The code of conduct I agreed with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft shows that a self-regulatory approach can serve as a good example and can lead to results. However, if the tech companies don’t deliver, we will do it.”
Cyberlaw expert Graham Smith of London law firm Bird & Bird took issue with the EU’s statement saying that it, “would institutionalize this kind of process for many different kinds of unlawfulness, including civil matters such as defamation where the government does not initiate the removal request.” Smith continued to say, “It is hugely reliant on the ‘trusted flagger’ system, but there is little to ensure that trusted flaggers make good decisions. A law enforcement authority is not a court. Most of the safeguards are post-notice and post-removal and consist of procedures to be implemented by the platforms. It is largely a system of removal by default with no prior independent scrutiny of a decision to notify.”
Smith also believes that the EU’s statement appears to break Article 15 of the EU E-Commerce Directive which Smith states, “prohibit platforms from having general monitoring obligations imposed upon them.”
Breitbart News Executive Chairman and current White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has previously called for tech companies such as Google and Facebook to be regulated in a similar way to public utilities as the influence and reach of these companies grows. The Intercept cited three anonymous sources that have reportedly discussed the issue of internet regulation and tech companies with Bannon. Bannon reportedly stated that companies such as Google and Facebook have become so essential to the internet and to the everyday life of many U.S. citizens that they should be regulated as a natural monopoly.