The internet is global. If someone still had any doubt, such skepticism will easily be overcome by the list of top online platforms from the US, Europe and Asia invited by the European Commission for a closed-door meeting on 9th January to discuss tackling of illegal content online.
Reflecting the rising importance of Chinese internet giants, Alibaba and Tencent were among the companies with whom the Commission is seeking to set up voluntary cooperation procedures.
Amongst the attendees were Commissioner King (far left), Commissioner Avramopoulos (2nd Left), Commissioner Gabriel (4th from left), Vice-President Ansip (3rd right), and Commissioner Jourova (far right) (Source: European Commission)
Two years ago, the Commission set in place a Code of Conduct under which Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Microsoft have been voluntarily removing hate speech from their sites. In June 2017, the European Council called on the industry to further develop new technology to improve automatic removal of speech inciting terrorist acts. Few months ago, the Commission adopted a Work Program to promote cooperation with social media company to tackle illegal content.
The aim of the meeting of 9 January seems to have been to warn the internet giants that the EU may legislate, if they did not speed up cooperation with the EU Commission to monitor on-line content.
Given that such legislation would apply also to platforms not established in the EU, the legislation is likely to have extra-territorial effects. The EU Commissioner in charge of international relations was nevertheless not present. One can therefore infer that the EU is mulling over unilateral initiatives with a global reach, instead of bringing up the matter in a multilateral framework, such as the Internet Governance Forum.
What the five commissioners reported on this event via twitter can be seen below.