Policing the internet: 91% of Europol's 11,000 requests for content removal successful


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"Since its launch one year ago, Europol’s European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) has assessed and processed for the purpose of referral towards concerned internet service providers over 11 000 messages across some 31 online platforms in 8 languages. The content had been put out by criminals to spread violent extremist online content materials.

91.4% of the total content has been successfully removed from the platforms by the social media and online service providers.

Additionally, EU IRU has expanded its open-source and internet monitoring activities in order to contribute to the disruption of illegal migrant smuggling networks. Content advertising smuggling services for migrants and refugees was referred for the purpose of removal.

The unit has also provided operational support to 44 investigations across the EU, delivering 82 operational products and deploying 4 Europol staff on-the-spot (3 during the terrorist attacks carried out in Paris late last year and 1 to support French authorities during the European Football Championship EURO 2016)."

See: Europol's Internet Referral Unit One Year On (press release, pdf)

The press release also notes that: "EU IRU has engaged with the online service companies to promote 'self-regulation' activities by the online industry," something that the German interior minister recently said he wished to see more of. Germany may push for changes to EU law to make it happen.

According to Deutsche Welle:

"The authorities are "intensively" negotiating with internet providers about deleting illegal content, De Maiziere [the interior minister] told reporters in Berlin on Thursday.

"I don't think it is too much to ask that hate mail, bomb-making instructions and similar content is removed from the web faster," the minister told reporters in Berlin, adding he expected "more accountability" from the providers.

The minister said the authorities did not want "censorship," but added that prevention of crime needed to be possible online.


The government will consider changing EU regulations to increase the providers' accountability, according to the statement."

See: Germany's De Maiziere calls for more 'accountability' from websites (Deutsche Welle, link)

And see: Statewatch Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees (March 2016, pdf)

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