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European Commission releases guidelines for detecting and removing illegal content online

[JURIST] The European Commission [official website] on Thursday released a set of guidelines [text, PDF] and principles for online platforms to detect and remove illegal content online. The guidelines consider a variety of illegal online content, including terrorism-related material, illegal hate speech, child sexual abuse material, and material related to trafficking in human beings, in addition to violations to intellectual property, illegal commercial practices online, and online activities of a defamatory nature.

One guideline recommends online platforms to appoint points of contacts in the EU between the platforms and law enforcement authorities in order to increase effective cooperation. It also recommends the increase of cooperation between online platforms and "trusted flaggers" or illegal content. The European Commission will be exploring the potential to develop agreed upon criteria for the definition of trusted flaggers.

The Commission also recommends online platforms to develop technology to automatically ensure that previously removed content is not re-uploaded. It also recommends methods of expediting removal of material where serious harm is at stake. This can involve fully automated deletion, or expedited removal from trusted flaggers.

Online platforms are also recommended to ensure that any criminal or other offences be reported to law enforcement authorities. Law enforcement authorities are then recommended to increase their capacity in order to take appropriate actions on the reports from the online platforms.

Increases in transparency from the online platforms is also recommended. This includes having "clear, easily understandable and sufficiently detailed explanation of their content policy in their terms of service." The online platforms should also publish reports related to the number and type of notices received and actions taken. There should also be a method to contest decisions of the online platform for removing content.

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