Positionspapier Position Paper on the Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online
The European Commission published proposal COM (2018) 238 final for a ‘Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online’, on 12 September 2018 (‘Regulation’). Prior to the proposal, the Commission published its ‘Recommendation on measures to effectively tackle illegal content online’ on 1 March 2018, building on the Commission Communication of September 2017. The Recommendation outlined a number of measures to stem the uploading and sharing of terrorist propaganda online, which are taken on in the proposal for the Regulation.
Bitkom welcomes the proposal´s aim to improve the effectiveness of the fight against terrorist content online. It is beyond doubt that terrorist content is unacceptable – offline and online. The liability regime for illegal content determined in the e-Commerce Directive (‘eCD’) and refined in several judgments is well-engineered, balanced, and sufficient to address contemporary challenges regarding illegal content online. Providers of hosting services are obligated to act expeditiously under well-defined circumstances in order to avoid liability. Beyond that, many service providers voluntarily take action in order to enforce their own community policies. Working with rigid legal obligations and fixed deadlines coupled with high penalties, as demanded in the proposal, is dangerous and probably even counterproductive, as they could lead to wrong decisions and overzealous removals. The proposed Regulation presents a severe intervention in the companies’ business model and therefore requires solid justification. However, the impact assessment of the European Commission does not properly assess the impact of this specific legislation on industry, especially on SMEs. For the reasons specified in the following paper, Bitkom urges the legal services of co-legislators to carefully review the legal grounds of this Regulation.