4 min read

In a new blog post on open Internet policy initiatives, Mozilla has criticized EU’s terrorist content regulation proposal which was released in September. They have termed it as a threat to ‘the ecosystem and user’s rights’. Mozilla had also released a post when the bill was proposed saying that it ‘threatens internet health in Europe.”

In September, EU proposed a bill to tackle the spread of ‘terrorist’ content on the internet. Per this bill, government-appointed authorities will have the unilateral power to suppress speech on the internet.

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””] The regulation proposes a removal order which can be issued as an administrative or judicial decision by a competent authority in a Member State. In such cases, the hosting service provider is obliged to remove the content or disable access to it within one hour. In addition, the Regulation harmonizes the minimum requirements for referrals sent by Member States’ competent authorities and by Union bodies (such as Europol) to hosting service providers to be assessed against their respective terms and conditions. Finally, the Regulation requires hosting service providers, where appropriate, to take proactive measures proportionate to the level of risk and to remove terrorist material from their services, including by deploying automated detection tools.[/box]

Source: European Commission

Mozilla has previously condemned the bill saying, “It would undermine due process online; compel the use of ineffective content filters; strengthen the position of a few dominant platforms while hampering European competitors; and, ultimately, violate the EU’s commitment to protecting fundamental rights.

In the recent blog post, they have further addressed this issue pointing out worrying elements from the proposal:

  • “The definition of ‘terrorist’ content is extremely broad, opening the door for a huge amount of over-removal (including the potential for discriminatory effect) and the resulting risk that much lawful and public interest speech will be indiscriminately taken down.
  • Government-appointed bodies, rather than independent courts, hold the ultimate authority to determine illegality, with few safeguards in place to ensure these authorities act in a rights-protective manner.
  • The aggressive one hour timetable for removal of content upon notification is barely feasible for the largest platforms, let alone the many thousands of micro, small and medium-sized online services whom the proposal threatens;
    Companies could be forced to implement ‘proactive measures’ including upload filters, which, as we’ve argued before, are neither effective nor appropriate for the task at hand.
  • The proposal risks making content removal an end in itself, simply pushing terrorist off the open internet rather than tackling the underlying serious crimes.

A hacker news user agreed with Mozilla but considered themselves lucky that the proposal was yet to be sanctioned. “This proposal is very bad. But luckily it is only a proposal. The council and parliament will still vote for this before it becomes European law. Both bodies will likely oppose, and the proposal will be significantly amended.

Mozilla has also said that they will continue to scrutinize, deliberate, and clarify how to protect their users and the internet ecosystem. A hacker news user said he’s happy “Mozilla’s on top of this early in the process. Let’s hope they manage to remove the problematic parts they outline in this post.

Some people say the EU was unnecessarily ‘bashed’ for this.

I don’t see how the EU as an institution is bashed for this. This is a similar process as occurs in any other member state and other democracies. Not to mention the US, with its secret laws and national security letters.

My personal opinion is that illegal content (CP, inciting violence) should be moderated quickly, where failure to act has big consequences. What I don’t like about the proposal is that it is enforced by governments, and not some judiciary body. I hope the council and parliament will amend the proposal in such a way this is reflected in a final law.

I don’t see how the EU as an institution is bashed for this. I think people are seeing a general trend of internet laws and bashing their creators. One could argue that this stage of the process is where bashing should occur. When it did with other ridiculous legislation, on both sides of the Atlantic, nobody excused the institutions making the suggestions. To many, myself included, this trend has to stop and sadly there isn’t enough bashing to curb it, especially as there are so many cheering it on.

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Content Marketing Editor at Packt Hub. I blog about new and upcoming tech trends ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development.