EU, tech giants boost cooperation on fighting online hate

Google's chief legal counsel Kent Walker (left) and a representative from Meta during a meeting with European justice ministers. PHOTO: AFP

LILLE (REUTERS) - European justice ministers and tech giants Google and Meta agreed on Friday (Feb 4) that a clear legal framework was needed to step up cooperation against online hate, France's justice minister said.

Social media and online platforms face a raft of legislative proposals on both sides of the Atlantic that will require them to do more to counter online hate speech and disinformation.

In the EU, the Digital Services Act would force tech giants to do more to tackle illegal content on their platforms, with fines of up to 6 per cent of global turnover for non-compliance.

"It is high time that we adopt an EU legislation so that platforms don't have the last word," said Mr Eric Dupond-Moretti, who was hosting the meeting in the northern France city of Lille. "We need a clear, precise framework that respects freedom of speech."

Google's chief legal counsel Kent Walker, who took part in the meeting, told Reuters in an emailed comment that the company welcomed the EU's plans to facilitate the sharing of digital evidence.

"We believe that the e-Evidence regulation sets a positive international precedent for supporting the needs of law enforcement while ensuring privacy and due process for users," said Mr Walker, who is President, Global Affairs and Chief Legal Office at Google.

Twitter, however, did not send a representative, which Mr Dupond-Moretti criticised ahead of the meeting.

"There will still be a chair, it will be empty, and there will be in front of this chair the Twitter tag, to show they are not there and to regret it," he said.

Twitter said the company was staying away because of its own Covid-19 rules, but that it was fully committed to cooperating with authorities to make the internet safer.

Twitter last month lost a hate speech court battle in France, with judges saying it must disclose details on what it does to tackle online hatred in the country.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.