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EU Commission: countering hate speech online. Jourova, concern for hate speech against migrants in Italy

(Brussels) “Illegal hate speech online is not only a crime, it represents a threat to free speech and democratic engagement”. European Commissioner for Justice Vĕra Jourova presented the fourth evaluation of the Code of Conduct launched in May 2016 on “countering illegal hate speech online”. “We urgently needed to do something about this phenomenon”, she explained. “Today, after two and a half years, we can say that we found the right approach and established a standard throughout Europe on how to tackle this serious issue, while fully protecting freedom of speech”. “IT companies are now assessing 89% of flagged content within 24 hours and 72% of the content deemed to be illegal hate speech is removed, compared to 40% and 28% respectively when the Code was first launched in 2016”. For Jourova, however, this problem requires fresh efforts, monitoring and surveillance. As she responded to a question from the press, she stressed that incitement to hatred against migrants and refugees “is widespread not just in Italy, but also in other Member States. We are following this with great concern and we are working actively to combat it”. Hate is visible on media outlets, online, and in the speeches of some politicians: “People hearing hate speech may think it is normal”, which is a “reason for great concern”.

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