Major tech firms call for EU legal protection on removal of harmful content

The biggest internet companies are on the European Union to put measures in place to protect them from facing legal liability when they remove illegal and harmful content on their platforms.

EDiMA, an organisation representing the likes of Google, Facebook, Snap, TikTok, Twitter, and others, wants to see the EU introduce a legal safeguard that would allow companies to remove content without facing additional liability.

“All of our members take their responsibility very seriously and want to do more to tackle illegal content and activity online. A European legal safeguard for service providers would give them the leeway to use their resources and technology in creative ways in order to do so,” said Siada El Ramly, Director General of EDiMA.

The organisation refers to the ‘Good Samaritan’ principle that exists in the US, which enables service providers to remove illegal and harmful content without being liable. Though the suggestion is that this principle should act as the basis for an EU-focused legal safeguard, EDiMA acknowledges that the US principle sometimes gives internet companies too much freedom, meaning they are free to also remove content that isn’t illegal.

The latest paper from EDiMA outlines the ways it believes the EU’s legal safeguard should differ from the US Good Samaritan principle, including that its implementation should be subject to oversight for ‘overaction’. It also recommends that minimum information levels in notices of illegal content are introduced, as well a requirement for a human review of appeals of removal of content.

“The EU approach to the freedom of expression is different to that of the US so our approach to moderating content online must be different also,” said El Ramly. “Our proposal is based on European values and laws and sets clear limits to the legal safeguard for service providers in order to protect the freedom of expression and to prevent overaction by service providers.”