EU Forces Web Hosts to Take Down Terror Content

John Lister's picture

Internet hosting providers will have just one hour to remove terrorist content after a government request under new European laws. It's raised fears some sites may get caught up potentially faulty content filters.

The law is a European Union regulation that will take effect in Spring 2022. It will automatically apply in all European Union countries and will be based on where a website is hosted rather than where its operators are based.

A press release announcing the regulation says it covers any content (both text and audio or video) that will "that incite, solicit or contribute to terrorist offences, provide instructions for such offences or solicit people to participate in a terrorist group." There's an exemption for some types of content including art and journalism. (Source:

Filters Could Be Faulty

Under the regulation, a national authority in a country can tell the provider hosting a site that it has such content. The provider will then have one hour to remove it or face a financial penalty. The penalties will be set by individual countries but will take into account the size of the provider and the nature of the breach.

The rules don't say providers must monitor or filter content when its posted. However, critics say some smaller hosting providers may find it too administratively costly to respond to every takedown request within an hour. In some cases terrorist groups intentionally use providers which don't have the resources to monitor or respond to problems quickly.

Governments Could Abuse Power

The concern is instead will rely on automated filters than block or remove terrorism-related content. The problem there is how reliable such filters are and how likely they are to block legitimate material by mistake.

The Verge website also notes that although the regulation's wording of what counts as terrorist material will be the same in every country, the interpretation may vary. That could mean authoritarian governments in some EU countries could misuse the powers as a way to enforce censorship of political opponents. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a good idea in principle? Will it work in practice? Is one hour a fair deadline to remove material after a government order?

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ronangel1's picture

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter all a matter of interpretation, depending on who you are and your political views.

rhcconsulting_14541's picture

This is also being pursued by the Canadian government.

Bill C-10 is currently being hotly debated in Canada as the exclusion of individuals was removed at the last minute and the bill treats anyone posting on social media as a "program" subject to the same CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission) rules as broadcasters.

The most comprehensive coverage is by Ottawa Law Professor Michael Geist ( Canada is also pursuing charges for including links to news stories and similar that have been tried and failed in Europe (and currently Australia).

davolente_10330's picture

I can see this being a shambles. What if someone posts a perfectly legit. article about terrorism containing terrorism-type terms and/or descriptions and filters are let loose on it? Bang goes the article and probably tons of other legit. stuff also, such as reviews of said article......and so it goes on. Yet another political move by non-technical people who have to be seen to be "doing something" and hang the collateral damage.