EU pushes Internet firms to remove extremist content in one hour

The Commission will retain a voluntary code of conduct on hate speech with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube in 2016. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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EU pushes Internet firms to remove extremist content in one hour

  • Service providers will have to provide annual transparency reports to show their efforts in tackling abuse
  • The industry has also been working since December 2015 in a voluntary partnership to stop the misuse of the Internet by international extremist groups

BRUSSELS: The European Commission will propose new laws on Wednesday giving Google, Facebook , Twitter and other Internet companies one hour to remove extremist content or face fines.
The Commission told such companies in March that they had three months to show they were removing extremist content more rapidly or face legislation forcing them to do so.
The Commission wants content inciting or advocating extremist offenses, promoting extremist groups, or showing how to commit such acts to be removed from the web within a hour of receiving a corresponding order from national authorities.
In a proposal that will need backing from EU countries and the European Parliament, Internet platforms will also be required to take proactive measures, such as developing new tools to weed out abuse and human oversight of content.
Service providers will have to provide annual transparency reports to show their efforts in tackling abuse.
Providers systematically failing to remove extremist content could face fines of up to 4 percent of annual global turnover. Content providers will though have the right to challenge removal orders.
In turn, it asks national governments to put in place the capacity to identify extremist content online, sanctions, and an appeals procedure.
The industry has also been working since December 2015 in a voluntary partnership to stop the misuse of the Internet by international extremist groups, later creating a “database of hashes” to better detect extremist content.
The Commission will retain a voluntary code of conduct on hate speech with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube in 2016. Other companies have since announced plans to join it.


Top journalist who fled Nicaragua says nation’s press threatened

Updated 22 January 2019
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Top journalist who fled Nicaragua says nation’s press threatened

  • ‘They are trying to end the freedom of the press, freedom of expression’
  • Thousands of Nicaraguans have fled the country to self-imposed exile, including more than 50 journalists

MEXICO CITY: One of Nicaragua’s most prominent journalists says President Daniel Ortega is working to close any spaces of freedom in the Central American country.
Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who had the offices of his media outlets Confidencial and the television programs “Tonight” and “This Week” seized in December by Ortega’s police, said Monday night that he fled to Costa Rica after receiving information that a plan was afoot to jail him on phony charges.
“They are trying to end the freedom of the press, freedom of expression,” Chamorro said in an interview with The Associated Press. “And if not close, impose censorship and self-censorship. Everything is threatened.”
Chamorro announced his relocation Sunday along with the airing of a much-anticipated interview with former Nicaragua Supreme Court Justice Rafael Solis, who publicly resigned from the court and Ortega’s party earlier this month.
Chamorro said the information about the government’s imminent move against him created a dilemma: He could continue his resistance in Nicaragua knowing he would be dragged into a legal battle against false charges that he couldn’t defend against or he could leave the country and continue doing journalism at a safe distance.
In addition to the confiscation of his offices, the government’s closure of the news channel 100% Noticias later in December weighed on his decision.
“I have evaluated the two circumstances as a much more dangerous trend,” Chamorro said.
At least 325 people have been killed in the suppression of anti-government protests that began throughout Nicaragua last April. Hundreds of people have been jailed, many on terrorism charges that are bringing lengthy prison sentences in what Solis called “political” trials that should be annulled.
Ortega maintains the public demonstrations were part of a coup attempt orchestrated by conservative interests in Nicaragua and foreign powers.
Among those recently arrested and accused of inciting terrorism were journalists Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda Ubau of 100% Noticias.
“Nicaragua’s independent press is threatened,” Chamorro said. “It is increasingly difficult to access sources. Sources, too, are being threatened. This isn’t only a threat against freedom of the press, but also a process that threatens freedom of expression.”
After the Sandinistas overthrew the dictator Anastasio Somoza, Chamorro ran their newspaper, La Barricada, for years. His mother, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was with the Sandinistas when they took power in 1979, but she ran against Ortega for the presidency and won in 1990.
Most of Chamorro’s journalists continue working in Nicaragua and are being provided security, but they also face harassment and persecution, he said.
Thousands of Nicaraguans have fled the country to self-imposed exile, including more than 50 journalists, Chamorro said. In April, journalist Angel Gahona was killed while reporting live via Facebook on protests in the southeastern city of Bluefields.
Last Friday, the newspaper La Prensa ran a blank front page bearing only the question: “Have you imagined living without information?” The government has been holding up its supplies of newsprint and ink, forcing the paper to reduce its page count and take other steps to save resources.
Solis, in his interview with Chamorro, said he finally decided to resign publicly after thinking about it for months, saying he saw no indication that Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, were willing resume dialogue to end the crisis. He had spoken personally to Ortega and Murillo and presented them with several ideas that could lead to a peaceful resolution, but he was ignored, he said.
Members of Ortega’s government have called Solis a traitor since his resignation. He is also living in self-imposed exile in Costa Rica. He said there was tremendous fear within the government and more specifically the judiciary to speak out against Ortega and Murillo.
At one point, Chamorro asked Solis if others in the government shared his view that there was never a coup attempt. “It is not a topic that we ever discussed in these nine months,” he said.