EU proposing online hate speech laws, and to make sites proactively remove content


May 28, 2007
from the if-you-thought-Copyright-Directive-was-bad,-just-wait-for-Digital-Services-Act dept

One of the reasons that Techdirt and many others fought so hard against the worst ideas of the EU Copyright Directive is that it was clearly the thin end of the wedge. If things like upload filters and the imposition of intermediary liability become widely implemented as the result of legal requirements in the field of copyright, it would only be a matter of time before they were extended to other domains. Netzpolitik has obtained a seven-page European Commission paper sketching ideas for a new EU Digital Services Act (pdf) that suggests doing exactly that. The Act's reach is extremely wide:

EU Digital Services Act said:
The scope would cover all digital services, and in particular online platforms. This means the clarification would address all services across the internet stack from mere conduits such as ISPs to cloud hosting services; while a special emphasis in the assessment would be dedicated to updated rules for online platforms such as social media, search engines, or collaborative economy services, as well as for online advertising services.
EU Digital Services Act said:
Social networks face multiple divergent rules for removing illegal hate speech on their services in different Member States (eg. Germany, France), and different rules for text or video material. As a result, the fight against online hate is expensive and inefficient across the Single Market, without binding safeguards for freedom of expression.
EU Digital Services Act said:
While the prohibition of general monitoring obligations should be maintained as another foundational cornerstone of Internet regulation, specific provisions governing algorithms for automated filtering technologies -- where these are used -- should be considered, to provide the necessary transparency and accountability of automated content moderation Systems.
EU Digital Services Act said:
Uniform rules for the removal of illegal content such as illegal hate speech would be made binding across the EU, building on the Recommendation on illegal content and case-law, and include a robust set of fundamental rights safeguards. Such notice-and-action rules could be tailored to the types of services, e.g. whether the service is a social network, a mere conduit, or a collaborative economy service, and where necessary to the types of content in question, while maintaining the maximum simplicity of rules.
Read the full document here:

TechDirt said:
Simplicity? - hardly. This all sounds like a recipe for a completely unworkable set of complex requirements that once again will favor big companies with deep pockets and big legal departments. The authors of the leaked note have managed to come up with an option for making these plans even worse: creating a "central regulator" for the whole EU to enforce this locked down, permissioned Internet they want to create. Although this is only an internal paper, not a formal proposal from the EU, it shows the kind of really bad ideas that are already floating around the European Commission, and being seriously considered there. If you thought the EU Copyright Directive was bad, just wait until you see the new EU Digital Services Act.
Read more:


Magical Developer
Apr 25, 2019
And how, pray tell, are we supposed to create these "hate speech filters"? An AI that will take down the wrong thing a good portion of the time like on Facebook?

As for imposition of intermediary liability, that may force people to use end-to-end encryption for private communications, like Facebook is dabbling with. It isn't really worth snooping on every single PM or incurring liability, if someone sends some copyrighted image to someone.

I'll read this more in-depth shortly.