EU member states, MEPs agree to take terror content down

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union member states and lawmakers reached a provisional deal Thursday to take down terror content online within an hour of its being posted.

The provisional agreement was announced as EU leaders gathered in Brussels for a two-day summit where they are set to discuss cross-border police coordination, following a series of recent extremist attacks in France and Austria.

“The EU is working to stop terrorists from using the internet to radicalize, recruit and incite to violence,” the EU Council said in a statement, adding that the proposed rules would apply to providers operating across the bloc, “whether or not they have their main establishment in the member states.”

Under the agreement, national authorities will be entitled to order platforms to remove content or to disable access to it in all 27 member states. Providers will be forced to act but will remain free to decide how they take down the forbidden material.

“The proposed rules also ensure that the rights of ordinary users and businesses will be respected, including freedom of expression and information and freedom to conduct a business,” he council said. “This includes effective remedies for both users whose content has been removed and for service providers to submit a complaint.”

The proposed regulation still needs to be formally approved by the EU Parliament and EU ministers.

The agreement was announced a day after the EU’s executive branch urged member states and lawmakers to quickly adopt the legislation proposed in 2018. As part of its Counter-Terrorism Agenda, the commission also encouraged EU countries to reinforce external border controls and police cooperation to prevent extremist attacks.

Since the deadly Paris attacks five years ago, in which fighters who had returned from Syria were involved, the EU has been repeatedly hit by extremist actions. In 2019, seven jihadist terrorist attacks were carried out in the EU, and twice that number of plots were thwarted by law enforcement.

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