EU Commission Moving Forward With Legislation Demanding One Hour Removal Of 'Terrorist Content'

from the ask-and-ye-shall-receive-as-many-fines-as-ye-can-collect dept

Governments -- which will process requests from citizens in statutorily-required time almost zero percent of the time -- never think the private sector moves fast enough. The government says "Jump" and then immediately asks why the jumping wasn't already in progress when it ordered the jumping to commence.

Content that isn't even of the "I know it when I see it" variety isn't being taken down quickly enough for the EU. Various members have implemented their own 24-hour policies for the removal of everything from "hate speech" to "extremist content" -- both particularly difficult to classify immediately when context and newsworthiness must be considered.

The EU Commission is reeling in the leash it has attached to US social media companies. It pitched the idea back in March but now appears to following through with its threats. The latest move towards impossibility is detailed by The Financial Times.

Brussels plans to force companies including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to identify and delete online terrorist propaganda and extremist violence or face the threat of fines.

The European Commission has decided to abandon a voluntary approach to get big internet platforms to remove terror-related videos, posts and audio clips from their websites, in favour of tougher draft regulation due to be published next month.

Here's the stipulation that will turn popular social media sites into EU-owned ATMs.

Although details of the regulation are still being drawn up inside the commission, a senior EU official said the draft legislation was likely to impose a limit of one hour for platforms to delete material flagged as terrorist content by police and law enforcement bodies.

Imagine imposing this sort of time limit on anything a government agency does. Imagine the outcry about the impossibility of serving citizens in a timely fashion. But nothing's too short for the private sector, which can set about nuking content indiscriminately just in case, rather than write checks to the EU on an hourly basis.

The impetus is recent terrorist attacks, of course. Any amount of ridiculousness can be excused in the name of public safety and national security, even if the resulting mess has almost zero impact on either of those two concerns.

The incumbent social media sites already have algorithms and live moderation teams addressing questionable content. And it's still not enough for insatiable government officials. Entrants into the market may as well not even bother. They cannot hope to stay alive, much less compete, if governments are going to hold them directly responsible for content posted by their users.

Then there's the fact that burying stuff as soon as it shows up does little to aid investigations or the pursuit of terrorists. Ask anyone who's witnessed the damage done to law enforcement efforts by SESTA/FOSTA -- a law touted as a crushing blow to human trafficking. All it's done is make traffickers harder to find by forcing them to utilize less visible platforms and communication methods. The same thing is happening here and every time "terrorist content" is nuked, it makes martyrs of villains and proves to acolytes and new recruits the West is out to get them.

The EU would be better off letting the voluntary measures already in place go to work. The press for one-hour turn time reeks of rent collection, not honest concerns about public safety.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 3:35am

    response

    soooo the response to terror attacks is.... terror attacks (on sanity)?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 3:46am

    Typical this should be easy to do, from people who do not understand, never mind have to do, what they are requiring others to do.

    Also, what happens when one counties police force flag comments by another countries politicians as being extremist, or a country abuses the system because of a thin skinned president.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 4:16am

      Re:

      "Typical this should be easy to do, from people who do not understand, never mind have to do, what they are requiring others to do."

      This is actually easy to do, relatively speaking. They just need to forego any sort of review process and automatically take every claim from authorities as always being true. Which, I presume is what's being asked for.

      Taking a flag and applying it immediately to their database isn't the problem. It's the "we need to evaluate whether you're telling the truth in your takedown order" part authorities have a problem with.

      "Also, what happens when one counties police force flag comments by another countries politicians as being extremist, or a country abuses the system because of a thin skinned president."

      Every country will insist their version is the correct one, and Facebook are evil because they can't apply conflicting orders. Some people will even believe them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 4:25am

        Re: Re:

        Taking a flag and applying it immediately to their database isn't the problem. It's the "we need to evaluate whether you're telling the truth in your takedown order" part authorities have a problem with.

        Well yes, because as they and everyone else knows The Good Guys never make mistakes or abuse their power. If they say something is Bad then that should be good enough for everyone, because again, they are The Good Guys and The Good Guys never make mistakes.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 4:45am

        Re: Re:

        Taking a flag and applying it immediately to their database isn't the problem.

        Well that depends on whether they provide an api to 'authorized flaggers', or have to have humans copy/rekey from emails faxes etc. The first will be one hell of a target for those who wish to abuse the system, but are not authorized, and human actors mean that they can be overloaded by too many requests in a short time interval.

        So even applying without any sanity checks is not as simple as you seem to think.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 5:29am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh, I know exactly what it would take to do the job *well*. I'm just saying that the request is set up to provide excuses when they inevitably fail. It's about making a scapegoat of platforms when something gets through the net that doesn't lead back to a failure by those in charge.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 7:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "provide an api to 'authorized flaggers',"

          Will the authorized flaggers have to pay a license fee in order to make use of said api?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        perlhaqr, 21 Aug 2018 @ 7:32am

        Re: Re:

        It's even easier than that, from a technical perspective. Just give the relevant police officers administrator privileges to simply delete any content they dislike.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 8:35am

        Re: Re:

        It's the "we need to evaluate whether you're telling the truth in your takedown order" part authorities have a problem with.

        It's worth pointing out that the proposal does not require them to delete terrorist content after being made aware of it; it requires them to delete material "flagged as terrorist content" by law enforcement. In other words, no evaluation is permitted other than "did the police click that button?"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 8:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's a time-saving measure really. If the police have already carefully evaluated the content(which of course they would always do, taking into account context and other factors that might impact the classification of a particular bit of content) what possible use would another round of evaluation do?

          I mean really, it's not like the police would ever be wrong, which would be the implication should the police say that something is bad and the platform disagrees, so it's just saving the platform the hassle of being told that they're wrong and to pick up that can/delete that content anyway.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 9:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          ...and officers of the law are also correct in stating such things?

          I mean, it should be a high bar and guaranteeing that any officer (or anyone who has "borrowed" access from one) seems like a dangerous thing to do. Giving them a tool that instantly guarantees content will be removed without question just because a cop has told them to is ripe for abuse - and you just know that they'll claim that it's Facebook's fault anyway if they're caught.

          There should be either some human intervention or double checking to ensure that doesn't happen. Which, presumably, is why one hour is being demanded, as it makes proper verification difficult and so they would be forced to give into any demand - and sets the bar even higher for any potential new competitors

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 9:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            seems like a dangerous thing ... ripe for abuse ... There should be either some human intervention

            Well, yeah, that's kinda why Techdirt editors have been bitching about these proposals.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 22 Aug 2018 @ 1:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Well, of course. We've already seen how private companies abuse things like automated DMCA notices. Now imagine that authorities can abuse peoples' general speech like that. Nothing good can come of it.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 3:55am

    EU demands the tide not come in... We could watch the film on YouTube but this time they finally managed to get an EU wide geo-block from every site on the internet.

    Their stupidity knows no bounds and its time for them to face the price of stupidity. It hurts. How long do they think they will remain in office when everyone discovers they can't get on FB because of the stupid demands.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Zgaidin (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 5:15am

      Re:

      It's very possible that this is exactly what will happen if this moronic law passes, but I think on the whole, EU politicians will not be hurt nearly so much as the rest of us. I, for one, am not looking forward to having to jump through hoops to talk to my friends in Europe.

      Depending on how this bill is worded (i.e. do they "define" social media platforms, or are there specifically named platforms) this is either an effort of gross incompetence in the name of "doing something", or this is a very poorly disguised attempt to force large American companies out of Europe to make way for domestic competitors in the space. Neither is good as both will lead to a regional fracturing of the internet that I don't think any of us is really prepared to handle.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      BO, 21 Aug 2018 @ 11:55am

      Re:

      The water, the tide—it comes in and it goes out. It always goes in, then it goes out. … You can’t explain that. You can’t explain it.comes in, tide goes out ... you can't explain that

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MathFox, 21 Aug 2018 @ 4:05am

    I think Facebook and Twitter have a very effective way of fighting this policy: Remove all posts and twits of EU politicians that support this "extremist" policy within one hour!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 4:22am

    An unfair comparison

    Governments -- which will process requests from citizens in statutorily-required time almost zero percent of the time -- never think the private sector moves fast enough.

    Comparing government response time to the response time of a private company isn't really fair. I mean a private company like Google or Facebook has billions of dollars to work with, and if they don't have enough people to quickly address an issue they can always spend some of that money hiring more people. And sure, they have to deal with vastly more content, but really, that's where those billions and new workers come into play.

    Compare this to the government of a nation, it's not like they have billions to work with or can simply hire more people. While yes, they tend to have to deal with significantly less content without the money or more workers to go through it that makes dealing with requests much more difficult.

    When a company claims that an hour limit on content removal isn't reasonable and/or stands to result in significant intentional/unintentional removal of innocent content that's simply an indicator that they're lazy and don't really care about the problem, because if they did then they'd buckle down, hire The Right People, and nerd harder.

    When a government agency on the other hand misses/ignores a deadline mandated by law it's because they simply do not have the resources(financial and/or personnel), and the people making the requests are unreasonable and don't have the first clue what they're asking for or how hard it is, and really, it's not like they can just hand out documents simply because someone asks for it, that could result in the wrong thing being released which could impact an innocent third party who suddenly found their stuff in the wrong hands, and making sure you don't accidentally screw over an innocent person like that is the highest of priorities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 6:45am

      Re: An unfair comparison

      I can't tell if you're serious, so have a funny, insightful, and report....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 7:02am

        Re: Re: An unfair comparison

        On the one hand thanks, means I did it right and it's always kinda funny when people take 'modest proposal' comments like that serious, even if I can understand why they might trip people up at times(it can be hard to parody things/positions that are themselves already crazy and/or stupid).

        On the other hand you might want to get your sarcasm meter checked and/or read it again if you thought I was serious.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          perlhaqr, 21 Aug 2018 @ 7:37am

          Re: Re: Re: An unfair comparison

          Poe's law, man. I've never seen the argument collected together in this particular fashion, but all the little pieces of it, I have definitely seen before, made seriously.

          Put together in one place, with some of the precise language cues you gave, definitely gave it a strong impression of probably being sarcasm, but these days, you just never can tell what's going to come crawling out of the woodwork here on the internet.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 7:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: An unfair comparison

            Yep, also the real problem is not that someone might be taken in by such comments and waste time responding. It's that they my take them seriously and use them as reasons to do certain things.

            Regulars here might know, but for every commenter there will always be lurkers, and they may never return to read the followups telling them it was satire...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 8:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: An unfair comparison

            Poe's law, man. I've never seen the argument collected together in this particular fashion, but all the little pieces of it, I have definitely seen before, made seriously.

            Absolutely, with some of the comments along those lines I've made in the past part of what makes it difficult is that even if I think something is too nuts to take serious all too often I've seen others make similar statements and not be joking/sarcastic.

            It can feel like putting forth A Modest Proposal in a society where there are people who have argued that killing and eating homeless people is a sensible response to homelessness and starvation, such that you have to go really overboard in order to parody the people who are dead serious and even then you stand the chance that someone will think you're being serious.

            At this point I trust that my reputation for making such comments will be enough for most people to understand that I'm not being serious at those times, but even then there are the occasional people who might be new to the site and take such comments seriously. I certainly don't hold it against them for the reasons you mentioned and I expanded upon, and if anything I consider it a badge of honor that I parodied something well enough that poe's law came into play.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 5:38am

    Soon they will ask for what they really want...

    ... which is for all user generated content to be submitted as a "letter to the editor" delivered to the content moderators who will examine it for adherence to every law of every country, and only if it passes will it be published.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 21 Aug 2018 @ 5:53am

    I'd laugh my ass if every platform, etc. decides that being in the EU isn't worth it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Seegras (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 6:06am

    Incredibly stupid

    Because there is a name out there which applies to "terrorist content". We call it "evidence".

    And its not just a very bad habit, but if some crime is actually connected to it, also against the state of law to destroy evidence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 7:05am

    Not just terrorism

    The current voluntary agreement already covers anything from terrorism to hate speech, child porn, counterfeit products and, of course, copyright infringement.

    Germany and France, the puppet masters of the current EU-Initiative, have already made clear that the law has to cover at least as much. Someone with enough money doesn't like it - they'll have their personal red button to zap it, no questions asked.

    We used to get upset about evil dictators censoring internet and media - now they seem to serve as inspiration.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 7:23am

      Re: Not just terrorism

      The current voluntary agreement already covers anything from terrorism to hate speech, child porn, counterfeit products and, of course, copyright infringement.

      But of course, I mean clearly copyright infringement is just as serious all all of the rest of those and deserves just as severe a response.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Filipescu Mircea Alexandru, 21 Aug 2018 @ 7:57am

    The EU needs to go!

    Someone seriously needs to take down the European Union or at least the European Commission. We do NOT want and will NOT tolerate their dictatorship and thought policing here! The international media better not dare to scream about violent revolutions in Europe and ask "how did we get here" once we get sick of this tyranny... many of us are at our limit at this stage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    WTF EU?, 21 Aug 2018 @ 8:03am

    Stop servicing the EU...

    Seriously. Facebook, Google, Twitter, all of them, just block EU networks entirely.

    When the masses rise up and drag their politicians by their heels, tied to the tails of the bulls in Spain, hilarity will ensue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2018 @ 10:00am

    Sometimes I wonder if politicians are just incapable of knowing what billions (trillions or maybe quadrillions if you add in anything automated) of communications per day online looks like?

    It's sort of like knowing something killed 500 people far from where you can witness it, but also knowing that the idea of 500 bodies lined up dead in front of you is extremely hard to imagine being possible regardless of the facts.

    If they had any idea how difficult it is to sanction or block those kinds of numbers without flawed automation they might reconsider. Or maybe they do know about this and that's the point, flag "objectors" of any kind until they disappear from the public internet.

    OTOH, the "do something, ANYTHING" politics of the English-speaking world is getting pretty popular lately...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 21 Aug 2018 @ 2:07pm

      Re:

      WE do have a solution..
      WE BAN every politician and Political groups from every part of this planet from POSTING ANYTHING...OR even Viewing it..

      We could also add the RIAA/MPAA, and all the music associations..

      The internet would be a nice peaceful area to DISCUSS AND DEBATE/../and have REAL conversations..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Aug 2018 @ 2:07am

      Re:

      Every fine is trivial if you don't have to pay it.

      The impact of any law is inconsequential if you don't ever have to face it.

      Any program and/or filer is easy to make if you don't have to do it.

      Any number of communications or other files are a breeze to deal with if you're not the one tasked with doing so.

      Politicians are unfortunately shielded from a lot of the things that general public have to deal with, often things that the politicians caused, and as such this seems to give them a warped perspective on what things are actually like and how difficult things are when you have to do them, rather than just tell someone else to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Châu, 24 Aug 2018 @ 1:29pm

    Brexit

    This is another good reason why Britain never use Euro and want leave EU.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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