The European Parliament is about to vote on an online Terrorist Regulation. We are concerned that the proposed regulation jeopardizes freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy, not just in Europe but also in the rest of the world. Today, IGP joins 60 other civil society organizations to oppose the passage of this regulation. You can read the letter being circulated by the groups here. Three main arguments are made against it:
Automated content moderation
The proposal requires hosting service providers (platforms) to “take proactive measures to protect their services against the dissemination of terrorist content.” It also requires service providers to remove or disable access to content deemed terroristic within one hour. Both parts of the law incentivize online platforms to use automated content moderation tools to pre-emptively detect and block content, such as upload filters. In June 2017, the European Council called for industry to “develop new technology and tools to improve the automatic detection and removal of content that incites to terrorist acts.”
Current content moderation practices are already characterized by a lack of transparency and accuracy. Automated tools cannot consistently differentiate activism, counter-speech, and satire about terrorism from content considered to be terrorist itself. Therefore, increased automation will ultimately result in the removal of legal content, such as news stories, documentation of abuses of minority groups, or records of violence in war zones uploaded by survivors.
Unaccountable extra-territorial jurisdiction
The law will be applied to any platform in the world as long as it serves users in the European Union. Since the market for and access to most platforms is global, this means it will put in place a globalized system of automated content moderation. Within Europe, the regulation empowers Member States to issue cross-border removal orders that would apply to any national government without any checks. As such the proposal would facilitate the creation of a coordinated global content cartel with the power to moderate content.
The letter has the support of organizations such as EFF, European Digital Rights Initiative, the Internet Society, Amnesty International, Chaos Computer Club, Ranking Digital Rights, Statewatch (UK), and many other European and international human rights organizations.