The Commission concluded yesterday a two-day discussion within the High-Level Group on combating hate speech and hate crime, which was dedicated to tackling hatred and intolerance, co-organised with the Spanish Presidency.
Together with the signatories of the Code of Conduct, national authorities and civil society organisations, the Commission discussed the features of an upcoming enhanced code, the ‘Code of Conduct+‘, in light of the provisions of the Digital Services Act. The enhanced Code aims to develop as a tool, which is not only reactive and focused on the take down of content, but also prompting online platforms to enhance prevention and anticipate threats.
The code of conduct against illegal hate speech – which was put in place in 2016 – has become an efficient and successful instrument to tackle online hate speech over the years. Illegal hate speech flagged to platforms is taken down rapidly, with most notifications being reviewed by participating companies within 24 hours. But more can and should be done.
Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said: “Illegal hate speech has no place in our society; neither online nor offline. The Code has been a unique tool since I proposed it in 2016. The DSA provides a clear legal framework how to handle illegal speech online. As digital challenges evolve, the strengthened Code will help to deal with them in flexible ways, and in dialogue between tech companies, civil society and the Commission.”
Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, who delivered an opening speech at the High-Level Group meeting, said: “The Code of conduct we agreed in 2016 with major online platforms brought significant progress. Yet, the digital landscape has evolved, we are facing new challenges and threats in the areas of online hate speech and freedom of expression. The EU has also adopted binding rules for safer and more accountable online environment, as part of the DSA. We are now advancing fast towards a “Code of Conduct+” and I prompt all signatories to find soon an ambitious agreement to contribute to make the EU a place where there is no place for hate.”
Participants to the High-Level Group discussed also the hate speech dimension of national action plans against racism and antisemitism, in line with the EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025 and the EU Strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life. More information on the Commission’s measures to prevent and combat different forms of racism, hatred and intolerance as well as on the Code of conduct can be found online. The opening speech of Commissioner Reynders on 10 October in Madrid can be found here.
(For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 2 296 22 53; Cristina Torres Castillo – Tel.: +32 2 299 06 79)