The French government is now tabling an amendment for removing any pedophilia or terrorist content off the internet in under an hour, surprisingly in an update to current “hate speech” laws. The ambitious amendment is a part of the Avia bill and is geared towards paving a way for the rest of the European states to follow.
Previously, the timeline to delete any pedophilia or terrorist content online was twenty-four hours; however, the Macron government wants to squash online crimes, as a result of which the timeline has been shortened to just one hour. If the reported content isn’t removed in one hour, an autonomous administrative block can be enforced without any court orders whatsoever.
“This amendment seeks to coordinate the provisions of this Act relating to section 6 of the Act for confidence in the digital economy with the provisions of Section 6-1 of the same Act relating to the withdrawal of pedophile or terrorist content, upon notification from the public authorities, by reducing to one hour the withdrawal period applicable to this content in the event of notification by the authorities (sic)” specified the French government.
While the one-hour timeline might be a plausible solution for eradicating perverted images of minors, it might not be the same in the case of terrorist content. It is extremely difficult for algorithms to differentiate actual terrorism-related content from mere jokes and sarcastic remarks in under an hour.
For instance, the French police agency requested the deletion of a tweet back in 2018 as it was linked to terrorism; however, when qualified personnel from the department reviewed the request, it turned out that the tweet was merely humorous and non-terrorist in nature.
With the previous year’s investigation into online pedophilia-related crimes by big tech revealing that indecent images were still rampant across the internet, stringent measures such as these might help weed out such harmful content online.
The tough one-hour deadline as proposed by the French government invariably implies that the website hosts must be on their feet and reactive in the wake of any illegal content online. Furthermore, website publishers that do not abide by this regulation are said to face a year in prison alongside a hefty €250,000 fine.
Critics of the law state that unless companies and platforms have the giant budgets of big tech companies, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to effectively remove such content a user uploads within one hour, and could further cement the dominance of global tech giants and make it significantly more difficult for emerging platforms to compete.