Remove terror content in 1 hour or else, EU warns tech giants

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The European Commission has told firms like Google and Facebook to remove "terrorist content" an hour after it is first notified, or face legislation forcing them to do so.
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The European Commission said that terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours of its appearance online. PHOTO: REUTERS

LUXEMBOURG (BLOOMBERG) - The European Union issued internet giants an ultimatum to remove illegal online terrorist content within an hour, or risk facing new EU-wide laws.

The European Commission on Thursday (March 1) issued a set of recommendations for companies and EU nations that apply to all forms of illegal internet material, "from terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, counterfeit products and copyright infringement."

"Considering that terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours of its appearance online, all companies should remove such content within one hour from its referral as a general rule," the EU watchdog said.

The commission last year called upon social media companies, including Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google owner Alphabet Inc., to develop a common set of tools to detect, block and remove terrorist propaganda and hate speech.

Thursday's recommendations aim to "further step up" the work already done by governments and push firms to "redouble their efforts to take illegal content off the web more quickly and efficiently."

"Online platforms are becoming people's main gateway to information, so they have a responsibility to provide a secure environment for their users," Andrus Ansip, EU vice president for the digital single market, said in the statement.

"We still need to react faster against terrorist propaganda and other illegal content which is a serious threat to our citizens' security, safety and fundamental rights."

The regulator is weighing possible new laws and additional steps depending on the actions that will be taken in response to its recommendations.

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