Austria launches attack on online hate speech on another front. Under the new bill submitted by the Austrian Minister of Justice, it will be possible to fine up to ten million euros for community services, platforms on which offensive content has appeared, and platform owners have not done everything to make it disappear as soon as possible. The new regulation, which could have a major impact on the way Google and Facebook work, is welcomed by those concerned, but calls for unified EU action on the issue.
The bill to curb online hate speech is draft for businesses operating in Austria (also) imposes obligations in relation to the handling of offensive content, which have at least 100 thousand users and an annual turnover of up to EUR 500 thousand. The aim of the new law is to enable victims to remove incriminated entries, comments or videos from the online space in an expedited procedure, virtually immediately, without lengthy legal proceedings.
To this end, the platforms concerned will have to set up and maintain a simple reporting system, a mandatory personal customer service line dealing only with such matters, and an annual report to the designated Austrian government on complaints received and how to resolve them. Companies will have to delete posts and entries that are clearly criminal within 24 hours of reporting, and in the case of other illegal content, they will have a maximum of seven days to do so.
welcomed the submission of the bill, but reiterated that members should address the problem through uniform, European regulation rather than action by Member States. This is indicated, moreover, by the fact that legislation with a similar purpose has been in force in Germany for two years, but so far it has not brought about a substantive change in the fight against online hate speech.
Gellert is Technology Editor at Counting News Media and contributor at other major tech publications. Her interests includes testing new gadgets and reading.