EU, tech giants boost cooperation on fighting online hate

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LILLE, France, Feb 4 (Reuters) – European justice ministers and tech giants Google’s and Meta agreed on Friday that a clear legal framework was needed to step up cooperation against online hate, France’s justice minister said.

Social media and online platforms face a raft of legislative proposals on both sides of the Atlantic that will require them to do more to counter online hate speech and disinformation.

In the EU, the Digital Services Act would force tech giants to do more to tackle illegal content on their platforms, with fines of up to 6% of global turnover for non-compliance.

“It is high time that we adopt an EU legislation so that platforms don’t have the last word,” said Eric Dupond-Moretti, who was hosting the meeting in the northern France city of Lille. “We need a clear, precise framework that respects freedom of speech.”

Google’s chief legal counsel Kent Walker, who took part in the meeting, told Reuters in an emailed comment that the company welcomed the EU’s plans to facilitate the sharing of digital evidence.

“We believe that the e-Evidence regulation sets a positive international precedent for supporting the needs of law enforcement while ensuring privacy and due process for users,” said Walker, who is President, Global Affairs and Chief Legal Office at Google.

Twitter, however, did not send a representative, which Dupond-Moretti criticised ahead of the meeting.

“There will still be a chair, it will be empty, and there will be in front of this chair the Twitter tag, to show they are not there and to regret it,” he said.

Twitter said the company was staying away because of its own COVID rules, but that it was fully committed to cooperating with authorities to make the internet safer.

Twitter last month lost a hate speech court battle in France, with judges saying it must disclose details on what it does to tackle online hatred in the country.

(Reporting by Ingrid Melander in France and Foo Yun Chee in Belgium Writing by Ingrid Melander Editing by Peter Graff and David Evans)

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