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EU Commission & Restricting YouTube for the Public Good

kat · 1 · 14928

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Offline kat

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Under the newly established (legislatively proposed) regulatory group, the "European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA)"[1], the European Commission is to grant itself oversight over 'audio-visual' service like YouTube, or those capable of providing similar/comparable services (social media sites like Facebook, Twitter et al), such that content can be restricted "in the public interest" in a way that would otherwise be contrary to the protections previously afforded them through the EU's equivalent of US 'safe harbor' laws. In the European Commission doing this, YouTube & Co. are essentially released from the incumbent liabilities that might otherwise be applicable to the provision of service were content not restricted; the European Commission is essentially saying "you can have your precious 'freeze peach' but you will liable for the content served (you American/English pig-dog)!".

In other words, YouTube et al can have their 'freedom of speech' to provide content to consumers as they see fit (subject to User ToS compliance), but they will be wholly liable for content deemed 'offensive' and 'objectionable'. Or... they can allow the EU Commission regulative authority over content/their respective services and as a result (essentially) be granted a liability exemption. In either case Service Providers are still obligated with addressing complaints, especially where they concern "hate speech"[2].

Video-sharing platform services provide audiovisual content which is increasingly accessed by the general public and in particular by young people. This also applies to social media services that have become an important medium to share information, entertain and educate, including by providing access to programmes and user-generated videos ... Furthermore they also have a considerable impact in that they facilitate the possibility for users to shape and influence the opinions of other users. Therefore, in order to protect minors from harmful content and all citizens from incitement to hatred, violence and terrorism, it is reasonable to require that these services should be covered by this Directive (emphasis added). [pg.5]

Additional Reading
- Illegal Hate Speech, the EU and Tech ("Code of Conduct on Countering Illigal Hate Speech Online")
- Freedom of speech ends where threats abound ("Violence against Women & Girls: on gender equality and empowering women in the digital age")
- Consultation on Interim Revised CPS Guidelines on Prosecuting Social Media Cases
- Draft Investigatory Powers Bill
- More Police interested in harassment as hate
- Harassment of women now a "hate crime"
- UK Government pushed to consider "sexism" rating for games
- Twitters Trust & Safety Council and "free expression"
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms or Discrimination against Women

[1] The European Commission ostensibly self-authors the establishment of regulatory bodies that are, as in this instance, typically only accountable to the Commission itself (they are not specifically accountable to EU member Countries although the Commission is, in principle, supposed to be representative).

[2] The Directive proposal appears to the consequence of an earlier ERGA report on "Protection of Minors in the Audiovisual Media Services: Trends & Practices" - "The report focuses on the tools currently being used by the audiovisual media service providers to help parents to protect children from content that may be unsuitable or potentially harmful to their development or overall well-being. By outlining the types of measures with concrete examples from the representative sample of the audiovisual media providers active in various EU member states, it is laying the foundations for further ERGA activities with the aim of fostering cooperation among stakeholders to protect children in the audiovisual media environment".