EU encourages companies to use upload filters against illegal content

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The European Commission wants online platforms to use proactive measures, such as upload filters, to prevent users from posting illegal content. It is one of the recommendations to combat illegal content.

The European Commission will publish a recommendation on Thursday with measures that companies should take to combat illegal content. They must have proactive tools to detect and remove illegal content. In an explanation, the committee states that this may involve automated instruments such as an upload filter ‘if applicable’.

The committee believes that proactive measures can be used in particular against terrorist content and content that can also be considered illegal without context, such as counterfeit goods or material that contains child sexual abuse. But the measures are intended to combat all forms of illegal content, including copyright infringement. Human supervision should prevent posts from being erroneously deleted.

The European Commission is also pushing for filtering of uploaded content as part of its drive to reform copyright through a new directive. More than sixty advocacy groups and companies such as Bits of Freedom and Mozilla spoke out against such filtering last year.

Also part of the recommended measures is that online platforms must remove terrorist messages within an hour of reporting. Companies should make it easy to report illegal content and notify providers of removal so they can object.

Member States should quickly identify terrorist messages and report regularly to the European Commission, which can monitor whether the measures are having an effect. To a large extent, the committee relies on the voluntary cooperation of tech companies to combat illegal content, but the European Commission emphasizes that legislation may follow to contain it.

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