This week the EU Council adopted the much awaited text of the Regulation on the dissemination of terrorist content online. EU institutions were under pressure to finalise the text in light of a series of attacks in France and Austria last year. The text was agreed at first reading which follows a provisional agreement reached between the Council Presidency and European Parliament in December last year

The Regulation now needs to be adopted by the European Parliament at second reading which is currently scheduled for 28th April 2021, before being published in the EU Official Journal. Although a handful of MEPs might vote against the text, it is expected to be passed.

The Regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day following its publication and will start to apply one year later. 

The text the EU Council has approved and will be voted on in April is available here, in conjunction with a minor amendment here. Key points to note are: 

  • Hosts must remove terrorist content or disable access to it in all member states within one hour of receiving a valid removal order from a competent authority. 
  • Hosts must also undertake specific measures to address the misuse of its services for the dissemination to the public of terrorist content where it has been exposed to terrorist content.
  • There are new transparency obligations for hosts who must clearly set out in their terms their policy for addressing the dissemination of terrorist content. Where action has been taken to address terror content, hosts must also publish a report outlining the measures taken that year before 1 March of the following year. 
  • Member states are free to lay down their own rules on penalties, but the Regulation states a systematic or persistent failure to remove content within one hour upon receiving a valid removal order should be subject to financial penalties of up to 4% of the hosts global turnover of the proceedings business year.