Courts in European Union can order Facebook to remove illegal content

The European Union’s Court of Justice ruled that Facebook must remove content around the world if it is illegal, as in defamatory, in one European Union country. The ruling held that local judges could order Facebook to remove illegal content. Facebook argued that such a ruling would hurt freedom of expression. The ruling was made in the case of an Austrian legislator who wanted Facebook to delete defamatory posts from an anonymous user. (Politico, October 3, 2019,by Mark Scott and Laura Kayali)

Facebook said about the ruling, “It undermines the long-standing principle that one country does not have the right to impose its laws on speech on another country. It also opens the door to obligations being imposed on internet companies to proactively monitor content and then interpret if it is ‘equivalent’ to content that has been found to be illegal. In order to get this right national courts will have to set out very clear definitions on what ‘identical’ and ”equivalent’ means in practice. We hope the courts take a proportionate and measured approach, to avoid having a chilling effect on freedom of expression.” The ruling poses a challenge for Facebook in that libel and privacy laws vary from country to country. (engadget, October 3, 2019, by Rachel England)

For related FAC coverage, click here and here.