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EU reportedly ready to act against tech companies over terror content

European Union plans to impose fines over terrorist propaganda.

Richard Theis / EyeEm

The European Union has lost its patience with tech companies over the removal of terrorist content from the internet and plans to impose tough new rules, the Financial Times reported Sunday.

The EU has dropped the voluntary approach to getting companies to delete terrorist propaganda and extremist violence and plans to institute fines for content not deleted within an hour of posting under draft regulations due to be published next month, the Times reported.

The EU has "not seen enough progress" on the removal of terrorist material from technology companies and would "take stronger action in order to better protect our citizens," Julian King, the EU's commissioner for security, told the Times. 

"We cannot afford to relax or become complacent in the face of such a shadowy and destructive phenomenon," King told the newspaper.

Social media sites have become a popular conduit for terrorist groups to share their ideas and recruit people to the cause. These companies have strict rules against posting hate speech and will remove such content and accounts when they're discovered.

The EU and other political institutions have repeatedly pressed internet companies to do more in the fight against terrorism. For their part, the companies have consistently tried to step up by funding research, partnering on a shared database of images and videos that promote terrorism and putting artificial intelligence to work at identifying content automatically.

So far, Facebook said its programs have identified 99 percent of terrorist propaganda before anyone has a chance to report it to the company. But it struggles more with hate speech, the company has said.

In March, the EU published sweeping recommendations for companies and EU nations regarding the speedy removal of all illegal content, including terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, counterfeit products and copyright infringement.

Internet companies also signed an EU-established code of conduct last year, promising to pull down illegal content within 24 hours of it being posted.

The EU didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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