Websites Now Have One Hour To Remove “Terrorist Content” Online Or Face Massive Fines. What Could Go Wrong?
from the this-won't-be-abused-at-all dept
We spent a few years warning people about the terrible EU Terrorist content regulation law, but as of this week, it’s now in effect, and websites will have one hour to remove any terrorist content that is flagged to them by any government official. If they fail to remove the content, they could face fines up to an astounding 4% of global revenue.
And the definition of what could count is incredibly broad:
Such material includes text, images, sound recordings and videos, as well as live transmissions of terrorist offences…
Oh. Just that.
And, don’t worry, the law says to take context into account.
When assessing whether material constitutes terrorist content within the meaning of this Regulation, competent authorities and hosting service providers should take into account factors such as the nature and wording of statements, the context in which the statements were made and their potential to lead to harmful consequences in respect of the security and safety of persons.
But, remember, if you don’t take it down, the government may fine you billions of dollars. So basically, companies have one hour to assess the wider context… but if they make the mistake of leaving it up, you could cost the company billions of dollars. Guess what’s going to happen? Everyone is going to take down reported content.
So, you might say, if it’s really encouraging terrorist activity, maybe it’s better to take it down, right? Except the evidence suggests otherwise. Actual research on the topic suggests that removing terrorist content doesn’t do a damn thing to stop terrorist acts. In fact, the research suggests that having such content out in the open enables better responses to terrorist threats.
Also, perhaps you think that the officials making these reports are trustworthy and won’t ever make mistakes? Except, we know that’s not how this works. Facebook’s was pressured into removing more terrorist content, and in the process ended up taking down lots of accounts from activists and journalists who were reporting on terrorist activity. Or how about the time that YouTube was ordered to remove terrorist content… and ended up removing documentation of war crimes instead.
Oh, and how can we forget the time, just a couple years ago, when French officials declared that much of the Internet Archive was actually terrorist content and needed to be removed?
I’m sure that this new regulation is going to go just great.