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Twitter, Tumblr, Vimeo Push Back Against EU Rules on Illegal Online Content

Twitter and the other companies said the solution should be broader than just removing content.

Twitter, Tumblr, Vimeo Push Back Against EU Rules on Illegal Online Content

Blunt content removal obligations could have a negative impact on freedom of expression

Highlights
  • Twitter and the other companies published a joint open letter
  • A better tactic would be to limit people who encounter harmful content
  • New EU rules should take into account decentralised hosting of content

Twitter and three other US tech companies have urged the EU to take a flexible approach towards harmful and illegal online content instead of blanket rules requiring takedown, saying this would preserve an open internet.

US Internet media group IAC/InterActiveCorp-owned online video platform Vimeo, nonprofit browser maker Mozilla and Automattic, owner of online publishing tool WordPress.com, made the call a week before EU tech chief Margrethe Vestager is due to present her draft rules.

Known as the Digital Services Act, the rules aim to get bigger companies to take more responsibility for removing illegal and harmful content as soon as they have been notified.

In a joint open letter published on Wednesday, Twitter and the other companies said the solution should be broader than just removing content. Blunt content removal obligations could have a negative impact on freedom of expression, they said.

"...By limiting policy options to a solely stay up-come down binary, we forgo promising alternatives that could better address the spread and impact of problematic content while safeguarding rights and the potential for smaller companies to compete," they said.

The companies said a better tactic would be to limit the number of people who encounter harmful content.

"This can be achieved by placing a technological emphasis on visibility over prevalence, supporting measures towards algorithmic transparency and control, setting limits to the discoverability of harmful content, further exploring community moderation, and providing meaningful user choice," they said.

The companies said new EU rules should also take into account the rise of decentralised hosting of content and data.

Following the announcement of the draft rules on December 15, the European Commission will have to thrash out a final legislative draft with EU countries and European Parliament, in a process likely to take months and even years.
© Thomson Reuters 2020


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Further reading: Twitter, Tumblr, Vimeo, EU
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