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Commission visits Silicon Valley to "step up voluntary cooperation with internet companies" on counter-terrorism
3.4.17
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A meeting between EU and Member State officials and representatives of Facebook, Google, Twitter took place in Silicon Valley in mid-March in order to "step up voluntary cooperation with the internet companies" on topics such as "the automatic detection of abusive content", access to electronic evidence and the EU's Civil Society Empowerment Programme, which was launched this year and promises to support "civil society, grass roots organisations and credible voices... to provide effective alternatives to the messages coming from violent extremists and terrorists."

For an overview of the visit to Silicon Valley, see NOTE from: Presidency to: Council: EU Internet Forum: debrief of the high level visit to Silicon Valley (7478/17, LIMITE, 24 March 2017, pdf, emphasis added):

"...two important initiatives which were discussed at a meeting of the 2nd EU Internet Forum in December 2016:

    • A "database of hashes" presented by a consortium of four major internet companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google), which aims at preventing detected terrorist material removed from one site, from being re-uploaded onto another;
    • The Civil Society Empowerment Programme (CSEP), presented by the Commission and funded under the Internal Security Fund, aimed at significantly ramping up the volume of positive alternative narratives online, produced and delivered by civil society partners.

To ensure speedy follow-up to both these important initiatives, and to further step up the voluntary cooperation with the internet companies, Commissioner Avramopoulos met with high level representatives of Google, Facebook and Twitter on 10 March 2017 in Silicon Valley. He was accompanied by Maltese Home Affairs and National Security Minister Abela and Estonian Interior Minister Anvelt, as well as the Counter Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, the Head of the Europol Internet Referral Unit and the Director of the Radicalisation Awareness Network Centre of Excellence. The delegation held constructive meetings with key actors of the major internet companies, which included Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook; Kent Walker, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Google; and Del Harvey, Senior Vice President of Twitter, in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, USA.

Commissioner Avramopoulos thanked the companies for the trustful, voluntary cooperation established two years ago through the EU Internet Forum and stressed that the objectives of this cooperation are shared by the EU and the internet companies. The EU seeks to protect citizens, while companies seek to protect their users, from terrorist content online. He welcomed the concrete results of the first 14 months of this cooperation, and emphasised the need to step up this cooperation further."

On the Civil Society Empowerment Programme, see: EU Internet Forum: Civil Society Empowerment Programme (European Commission, link):

"The Civil Society Empowerment Programme supports civil society, grass roots organisations and credible voices.

Using the positive power and tremendous reach of the internet, it empowers these different groups to provide effective alternatives to the messages coming from violent extremists and terrorists, as well as ideas that counter extremist and terrorist propaganda.

The Civil Society Empowerment Programme is an initiative under the umbrella of the EU Internet Forum, which was launched in 2015 by Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, to tackle terrorist content online."

And the currently non-public: 2017-2019 Joint Activity Plan (JAP) for the Civil Society Empowerment Programme (CSEP) (pdf):

"This Joint Activity Plan (JAP) summarizes the main activities of the programme in 2017 and describes specific contributions of Facebook, Twitter and Google. This JAP details the specific contributions of all partners. The adoption of the JAP is scheduled for 31 January 2017, during a first of three meetings of all partners to coordinate its contributions to the CSEP. For now, the 2017 contributions are detailed, and possible cooperation in 2018-2019 is mentioned tentatively. In late 2017, a 2018 update of this JAP could be produced, to detail the specific contributions of all partners in the forthcoming year."

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