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.

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Comments on “Websites Now Have One Hour To Remove “Terrorist Content” Online Or Face Massive Fines. What Could Go Wrong?”

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

The idea that some terrorist or criminal content on display just makes people want to do terrorist criminal things is a farce of the first order anyway. Some people certainly use such content for analysis, research, news, mitigation, and condemnation of terrorism. Some people will avoid it. Some people might get a vicarious thrill out of anything violent or awful, but that has always been so. Hiding it all doesn’t help.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
TheResidentSkeptic (profile) says:

"any", "every" or "some" ???

by “any” government? So one to rule them all? Respond to 27 different requests about the same content? Get a consensus?

Wait until one (or more) of them demands it be left up, and others demand it be taken down..

One countries news bureau posts it, another country objects to it.

This is going to need a LOT of popcorn.

Drew Wilson (user link) says:

How Will Smaller Websites Survive?

I can’t help but think that if such a law was passed in Canada, I’m not sure my site would survive.

Then I think about the broader context of such an issue and can’t help but ask how would any smaller site survive something like this? I mean, when you have a crew of anywhere between one and three people, there’s bound to be a one hour gap somewhere along the line. Like, say, someone at 3:45AM (website local time) posted something that would fall under these laws, it gets reported at 4:00AM, then someone on staff wakes up at 9:30AM to see a ‘failed to comply’ notice and that their site is now going to face this multi-million euro fine. Nothing about that is fair, but a 1 hour time window totally leaves that possibility open.

I personally don’t see how my site could survive something like that, so I don’t even know how European websites would survive either.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

While true, the general compliance costs can break some sites, the specific compliance costs + fine + whatever administrative and or court costs involved in communicating with “some government” might be staggering and destructive.

ECA (profile) says:

WOW, Maybe we get Better news?

Wait for it, and a News agency post it.

Anyone here want to explain the white wash of NEWS in the USA??
Vietnam? Korea? What happened in the 1980’s that created the war in Afghanistan, in 2000’s?
HOw about the News that the USA invaded Central America, and Cuba, and the Spanish islands and Took them all. But we have never declared them as PART of the USA. 1890’s thru 1940(?)
Our news is so Dummed down that a 6th grader could understand it, and NOT worry about anything, THINKING that the gov. will protect you.

OGquaker says:

Re: $6/gallon? Continuous war? Open wide

Nixon’s law blocking export of US mined petroleum was scuttled ~2015, the same year we shipped $6 billion in arms into Ukraine & blocked the Nordstrom-II pipeline. The US went from zero exported NG in 2015 to the world’s largest exporter of NG now in 2022: the war has secured a market for fracked American LNG and flushed billions of dollars earmarked for wind and solar in the US and Europe….. into new petroleum infrastructure, a Win-Win for Exxon and a big hard-on for Raytheon.

See Read that in our media /s

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Big Brother' was not a goal to be strived for

If ‘people can see it online, which makes them more likely to do the same thing, therefore it must be scrubbed from onlien platforms’ is the rule I’m sure they’ll be going after the traditional press(paper and video) and hammering them with ruinous fines if they dare show any terrorist attacks, right?

If watching the video of a terrorist attack on the likes of youtube makes people more likely to engage in similar behavior then watching the same video on tv or reading about it from a newspaper would have similar effects so I look forward to every EU news outlet adopting the Some Asshole Initiative from now on barring some massive hypocrisy on the part of the law and those pushing it anyway.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“that is flagged to them by any government official.”

Of course the definition is whatever that offical dislikes & many of their faithful will agree with it being terrorist content & of course there is no way to challenge those flags because they would never misuse it…

Bye Europe, we might miss you while you are cut off from posting to any platform.

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