EU Not Mulling Changes to Website Content Liability Law

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By Alexis Kramer

The European Commission has no plans to propose changes to the EU’s content liability law for online platforms despite heightened pressure on companies like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.

Changing the regulatory framework is “not on the agenda,” Luigi Soreca, director for security of the commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, told Bloomberg Law Jan. 30 after a policy event in Washington. “We are satisfied with the way the e-Commerce directive is working right now.”

The comments came as social media companies face continued pressure from European leaders to boost their efforts to combat hate speech and extremist content after a wave of terrorist attacks there.

Voluntary Efforts

The e-Commerce Directive shields online publishers from liability for others’ content on their sites, provided they don’t have actual knowledge of the alleged illegal content. It also stipulates that online publishers have no duty to monitor the content they host.

The commission issued guidelines in September 2017 urging social media and other platforms to do more to detect and remove hate speech and extremist content online. At the time, it promised to monitor platforms for a few months to determine if legislative measures are needed to complement the directive.

Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube have touted the voluntary steps they’ve taken to combat extremist content. Those include creating a shared database of the digital fingerprints of videos they’ve removed from their sites; increasing content-reviewing staff; working with law enforcement; and sharing technological approaches with smaller companies.

Soreca said at the event that much work remains to be done in collaboration with the private sector before deciding whether to look to legislative solutions.

“We strongly believe in the added value of the voluntary scheme,” Soreca said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at akramer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com

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