COUNTERTERRORISM

Landmark ruling: EU to pull down online terrorist content within an hour of posting

EU said terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours after its appearance.

In Summary

• Removal orders must contain justifications as to why the material is considered to be terrorist content, including detailed information on how to challenge the removal order.

• Terrorist Content Online Regulation responds to the need to tackle online content disseminated by terrorists in order to spread their message, to radicalise and recruit followers.

A graphic of terrorism.
A graphic of terrorism.

The European nations can now remove the contents believed to spread extremist ideologies through online platforms.

The EU’s dissemination of terrorist content online entered into force on June 7, 2021, and member states are able to pull down the content within an hour.

According to the EU, terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours after its appearance.

However, removal orders must contain justifications as to why the material is considered to be terrorist content, including detailed information on how to challenge the removal order.

The rules will help to counter the spread of extremist ideologies online, a step that the EU said to be a vital part of preventing attacks and addressing radicalisation.

The member states will be able to sanction non-compliance and to decide on the level of penalties, which will be proportionate to the nature of the infringement.

Further, the size of the platform will also be taken into consideration, so as to not impose unduly high penalties relative to the platform's size.

The EU members and online platforms offering services in the EU have one year to adapt their processes.

Commenting on this, Margaritis Schinas, who is the Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life said that with the new rule, they are cracking down on the proliferation of terrorist content online and making the EU's Security Union a reality.

“From now on, online platforms will have one hour to get terrorist content off the web, ensuring attacks like the one in Christchurch cannot be used to pollute screens and minds. This is a huge milestone in Europe's counter-terrorism and anti-radicalisation response,” Margaritis said.

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said that taking down terrorist content immediately is crucial to stop terrorists from exploiting the internet to recruit and encourage attacks and to glorify their crimes.

“It is equally crucial to protect victims and their families from being confronted with crimes a second time online. The Regulation sets clear rules and responsibilities for the Member States and for online platforms, protecting freedom of speech where warranted."

Terrorist Content Online Regulation responds to the need to tackle online content disseminated by terrorists in order to spread their message, to radicalise and recruit followers, and to facilitate and direct terrorist activity.

This s a critical move from the EU in tackling terrorism and radicalisation considering that most of the terrorists are using online platforms to instil fear and spread their evil.

Council of Europe, the European Union, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are the three intergovernmental organisations in Europe that are engaged in counter-terrorism issues.