EU AVMSD: It’s not censorship to censor legal content

The EU is in the process of updating the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD).

As one could expect, this opens the floodgates when it comes to regulating and censoring content such as video (and even animated GIF:s) on a number of platforms. This includes otherwise legal content.

Today the EU E-Commerce Directive gives service providers and platforms some reasonable protection. EDRi explains…

That Directive protects freedom of expression by ensuring that internet companies are not unduly incentivised to delete content. It does so by limiting liability to situations where they fail to act diligently upon receipt of a notice of the illegality of the content in question.

But with the revised AVMSD things might change…

The Council and the Parliament want a wide variety of content to be regulated – anything that (based on the wisdom of the provider, in the first instance) might impact the physical, mental and moral development of minors. At the same time, video-sharing and (some) social media platforms are expected to restrict content that is an “incitement to violence or hatred” by reference, for example, to sex, racial or ethnic origin, disability, age, or sexual orientation.

The content that the providers will be required to regulate is not, or not necessarily, illegal. As a result, it is argued that this privatised regulation of freedom of expression does not breach the E-Commerce Directive, because the obligation is to regulate content. In short, restriction of legal content is not a breach of rules that cover illegal content.

So… according to EU logic, it’s not censorship if you censor legal content?

The Council also wants video-sharing and social media platforms to regulate live-streamed video.

This revision is turning into a mess. And for once it’s not the copyright industry that is pushing the changes. It’s politicians – aiming to regulate what you can or cannot say (or even joke about).

If this becomes law, platforms like Youtube and Facebook will have to introduce new terms and conditions narrowing down the scope of what is acceptable for users to upload. Doing so, they most certainly will be overly cautious – to stay on the safe side when it comes to EU regulation.

It all boils down to the EU – once again – pushing private companies to use their terms and conditions to limit in other ways legal free speech.

EDRi: AVMS Directive: It isn’t censorship if the content is mostly legal, right? »


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