European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos in cooperation with the Commissioner for Justice, Consumer and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, today launched the EU Internet Forum. The forum brings together EU Interior Ministers, high-level representatives of major internet companies, Europol, the EU Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator and the European Parliament. The goal is to reach a joint, voluntary approach based on a public-private partnership to detect and address harmful material online.
At the EU Internet Forum, discussions will focus on how to protect the public from the spread of terrorist material and terrorist exploitation of communication channels to facilitate and direct their activities. Discussions will also focus on how to make better use of the Internet to challenge terrorist narratives and online hate speech.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said:
“Terrorists are abusing the internet to spread their poisonous propaganda: that needs to stop. The voluntary partnership we launch today with the internet industry comes at the right time to address this problem. We want swift results. This is a new way to tackle this extremist abuse of the internet, and it will provide the platform for expert knowledge to be shared, for quick and operational conclusions to be developed, and powerful and credible voices to challenge extremist narratives.”
The internet industry can play a key-role in the fight against radicalisation online and incitement to violence. Commissioner for Justice, Consumer and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, said: “There is growing evidence that online incitement to hatred leads to violence offline. We must step up work to limit and eradicate this phenomenon online. However, tackling online hate speech is a delicate exercise that requires to define clearly where freedom of expression stops and where hate speech starts. Freedom of speech is a human right, but this right does not protect illegal hate speech inciting violence and hatred.”
The Commission will push for a faster detection of online terrorism incitement and hate speech, as well as for more effective procedures to take down harmful material.
The EU Internet Forum is one of the key commitments made in the European Agenda on Security presented by the Commission in April 2015. It aims to provide a framework for an efficient cooperation with the internet industry in the future and to secure a commitment from the main actors to coordinate and scale up efforts in this area in the coming years. Senior representatives of Ask.fm, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter will participate in the launch event of the EU Internet Forum.
The European Agenda on Security prioritises terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime as interlinked areas with a strong cross-border dimension, where EU action can make a real difference. One of these priorities is the development of effective de-radicalisation and disengagement programmes, including the influence of online radicalisation.
To enhance and support efforts to prevent radicalisation leading to violent extremism the Commission has established the Centre of Excellence at the Radicalisation Awareness Network to reinforce its anti-radicalisation work. The RAN Centre facilitates the exchange of best practices and expertise, consolidates knowledge and identifies and develops best practices, concrete guidance and tailor made support services.
The Commission hosted the first high-level conference on the criminal justice response to radicalisation on 16 October. All Justice Ministers present insisted that one of the most worrying sources of radicalisation is currently online. They called for a revision of its detection and prevention methods.