Dan sees off attempts to water down anti-terror legislation

West Midlands MEP and Conservative Home Affairs spokesman Daniel Dalton has seen off attempts to water down his report tackling online terrorist content.

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, some MEPs sought to replace a requirement for platforms to remove terrorist-related posts within an hour with a weaker demand to simply delete them "as soon as possible."

However, Parliament rejected amendments submitted by Green and Socialist MEPs (which were supported by West Midlands MEPs Bill Etheridge and Jill Seymour), and approved Mr Dalton's report, which could now complete the legislative process by the end of the year.

Mr Dalton said: "The one hour deadline is a key part of this important legislation and I am delighted it received Parliament's support.

"There is clearly a problem with terrorist material circulating unchecked on the internet for too long. Law enforcement authorities have made clear to me that terrorist content disseminates most rapidly in the first hour and that the one hour principle is vital.  

"This propaganda can be linked to actual terrorist incidents and national authorities must be able to act decisively. The online posts linked to the recent terrorist outrage in Christchurch were another reminder of how important it is that we act. 

"Today's approval means trilogue negotiations between the Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission can begin after May's elections and the legislation take effect as soon as possible. 

"The existing voluntary code operated by platforms has brought improvements, but the threat is growing and we now need to be back it up with carefully targeted regulation."

Under the legislation, platforms have one hour to respond to a removal order from a national authority. However, a 12-hour notice period will apply in the case of the first order issued.

There are specific provisions for small businesses which may find it more difficult to meet the 60 minute deadline. Cloud infrastructure services for companies are excluded from the legislation as they do not control data and cannot remove individual posts. There is no demand on sites to undertake general monitoring of all content.

Fines of up to four per-cent of turnover can be imposed on platforms which repeatedly fail to remove terrorist posts. Sites that are regularly targeted could be asked to introduce specifically focused monitoring of content as a last resort, while paying "particular regard to the fundamental rights of users and the importance of free speech."