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1984? EU Unveils Online “Code of Conduct” to Fight (and Censor) Hate Speech

The European Union, in partnership with YouTube, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter, has published a "code of conduct" to fight the spread of "illegal hate speech" online.

Following the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks, the EU has taken it upon itself to begin cracking down on “hate speech”. The technocrats in Brussels have already taken over the economic and political sovereignty of member states, the hijacking of free speech online was bound to happen. The terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe have provided the unelected in Brussels perfect cover.

In partnership with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft, the newly released EU “code of conduct” will fight “illegal hate speech” online in Europe. The arguments from those supporting the initiative is textbook smoke and mirrors…in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, a crackdown on “hate speech” is necessary to counter jihadist propaganda online.

Of course we will see definitions of what is “hate speech” take on various forms, all of which will be defined as any voice that strays from the EU narrative, as content that must be removed from the above popular online destinations.

Opponents to the “code of conduct” rightly argue that this is nothing more than an assault on free speech in Europe.

The Gatestone Institute reports that opponents to the EU initiative

…say that the EU’s definition of “hate speech” and “incitement to violence” is so vague that it could include virtually anything deemed politically incorrect by European authorities, including criticism of mass migration, Islam or even the European Union itself.

Some Members of the European Parliament have characterized the EU’s code of online conduct — which requires “offensive” material to be removed from the Internet within 24 hours, and replaced with “counter-narratives” — as “Orwellian.”

Here is a summary of the”code of conduct” as announced on May 31, in a statement by the European Commission:

“By signing this code of conduct, the IT companies commit to continuing their efforts to tackle illegal hate speech online. This will include the continued development of internal procedures and staff training to guarantee that they review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary.

“The IT companies will also endeavor to strengthen their ongoing partnerships with civil society organisations who will help flag content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct. The IT companies and the European Commission also aim to continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives [emphasis added], new ideas and initiatives, and supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking.”

Excerpts of the “code of conduct” include:

“The IT Companies share the European Commission’s and EU Member States’ commitment to tackle illegal hate speech online. Illegal hate speech, as defined by the Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law and national laws transposing it, means all conduct publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, color, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin….

“The IT Companies support the European Commission and EU Member States in the effort to respond to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally. The spread of illegal hate speech online not only negatively affects the groups or individuals that it targets, it also negatively impacts those who speak out for freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination in our open societies and has a chilling effect on the democratic discourse on online platforms.

“While the effective application of provisions criminalizing hate speech is dependent on a robust system of enforcement of criminal law sanctions against the individual perpetrators of hate speech, this work must be complemented with actions geared at ensuring that illegal hate speech online is expeditiously acted upon by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame. To be considered valid in this respect, a notification should not be insufficiently precise or inadequately substantiated.

“The IT Companies, taking the lead on countering the spread of illegal hate speech online, have agreed with the European Commission on a code of conduct setting the following public commitments:

– “The IT Companies to have in place clear and effective processes to review notifications regarding illegal hate speech on their services so they can remove or disable access to such content. The IT companies to have in place Rules or Community Guidelines clarifying that they prohibit the promotion of incitement to violence and hateful conduct.

– “The IT Companies to review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary.

– “The IT Companies and the European Commission, recognising the value of independent counter speech against hateful rhetoric and prejudice, aim to continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives and supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking.”

The EU “code of conduct” requires Internet companies to establish a network of “trusted reporters” in all 28 EU member states to flag online content that “promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct.”

This code is a terrifying step towards blanket online censorship, and completely oversteps any mandate handed to the unelected in Brussels.

A complete and compelling analysis of the “code of conduct” can be found by visiting the The Gatestone Institute report.

European citizens should be very afraid of the monster that the European Union is morphing into.



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Alex Christoforou
Writer and director forThe Duran - Living the dream in Moscow.

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