Internet hosting services that fail to promptly remove online terrorist content could face hefty fines under a bill approved by EU lawmakers on Wednesday.
“Companies could be fined up to 4 per cent of their annual turnover if they `systematically and persistently’ violate a requirement that content is removed within an hour after national authorities give notice,’’ the parliament said in a statement.
The bill was passed by 308 votes to 204, with 70 abstentions.
However, negotiators will have to wait until the new European Parliament convenes in July, after EU elections, to hash out a final deal with member states, as this week is the last plenary session of the term.
In a nod to concerns of civil liberties groups and other critics, the bill does not require providers to monitor the content that they transmit or store, or to actively seek out illegal posts.
It also does not require firms to set up a de facto filter to catch such content automatically, which the original European Commission proposal called for last year.
In addition, the bill includes language aimed at small providers.
It calls on national regulators to contact small platforms when they incur first-time notices, first giving them information and then allowing 12 hours before issuing the order.
It also seeks to provide a clear definition of terrorist content, while noting that “the expression of polemic or controversial views on sensitive political questions” should not fall in that category.
For providers who are repeat offenders, the legislation allows authorities to impose additional measures, such as requiring extra staff or regular reporting.