Dutch Prosecutors Putting Pressure On Hosting Companies To Censor Content, Despite It Being Legal

from the that-slippery,-slippery-slope dept

GigaOm points our attention to complaints from some Dutch hosting companies that the government there is increasingly pressuring them to simply remove content claiming that it is "jihadist," but without any attempt to get a court order or to file criminal charges. We've seen this before, of course. The US government effectively forced Wikileaks to scramble for new hosting after pressure caused its hosting providers to pull the plug. Other services are pressured into removing certain types of content as well.

In the story linked above, the Dutch Hosting Provider Association (DHPA) claims that prosecutors are simply going to hosting companies and declaring, without any court order or underlying legal argument, that certain content is jihadist and should be removed. Feeling pressured and threatened, many hosts will simply remove that content. While the content may be incendiary, does that mean that there should be no due process at all? And the very real risk of overblocking doesn't seem to concern those demanding the content be taken down. The story notes one example of a video of a group of men around a campfire shooting guns -- but they note it's not entirely clear why they're shooting. And yet, they were told to take the video down.

It's easy to say "this content is dangerous, take it down," without recognizing the slippery slope of censorship this creates. No one is defending efforts to recruit people into jihadist groups, but leaping immediately to censorship without due process or any evidence of actual law breaking is not the way to protect a free and open society. It seems very much like the opposite.

Filed Under: censorship, court orders, free speech, hosting, jihad, netherlands, pressure
Companies: dhpa

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  1. icon
    Lisa Westveld (profile), 15 Oct 2014 @ 7:26am

    Anyone can make requests...

    Anyone can make such requests. And it's up to the hoster to decide if the content needs to be removed or not. Most hosters have restrictions in their policies that would ban certain content and would remove it anyways, no matter who reported it.
    Leaseweb, a company named in the article has these : General conditions (PDF). Article 12 is about the reasons for suspension of the site/account. And 12.1a is the rule that tells you why Leaseweb will immediately obey once they receive a request. They just blindly obey. They also have an "Acceptable Use Policy" and they might define a Jihad site to be unacceptable.
    More hosting companies have similar rules. My own host also has strict rules about the content I host. Even more strict than leaseweb since my host explicitly tells me what content is not allowed. (Basically anything hateful or racist is banned.)

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