Näthat. Basically the word refers to customary illegal expressions, such as insults, allegations or crimes against clandestine law, on the Internet. However recently we have been able to see a sense of significance behind such expressions, often with political connotations. People simply have difficulty keeping themselves from expressing or “networking” their political opinions.
By – Henrik Sundström
When MUF made a film about how unpleasant debutor Annika Strandhäll had been on television, an official on the SSU replied that it was not the first time that young moderators were well-sourced. This of course was not just a debate in Sweden. Politicians throughout Europe have been competing with each other for several years to find out who is most affected by networking.
Following the terrorist attacks in Brussels, the EU Council of Ministers agreed to draft a code of conduct for online hate propaganda by June 2016, which will regulate how the major IT companies such as Facebook and Twitter will handle the issues. After much pressure from businesses, the EU Commission and the four IT giants Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft agreed on this written code of conduct in May 2016.
What the media mostly reported about the code of conduct was that IT companies promised to review the majority of complaint notifications in regards to hate breaches within 24 hours. What the media wrote less about was that it was also written into a system of trusted reporters in English. The Swedish text of the Code of Conduct states that the Member States and the European Commission should provide companies with “access to a representative network of civil society organizations partners” who “can contribute high quality notifications”.
What the European Commission seems to have in mind in its definition of “civil society” is mainly the INACH Foundation, which is an abbreviation of the International Network Against Cyber Hate. INACH is today an umbrella organization for mainly associations and organizations working to “implement human rights on the internet”. INACH also seems to always be represented at the meetings and conferences organized by the EU regarding the Code of Conduct, and EU funding is provided to INACH in return for working on the issues.
At the end of December last year, INACH published a strategic document, ‘Policy Recommendations to Combat Cyber Hate.’ One can find, among other things, that IT companies are more willing to remove content if a large number of complaints are made or if the complaint notification came from a trusted reporter.
Furthermore, reports from trusted reporters can be processed faster by IT companies as these complaints need not be checked thoroughly. If content is removed for incorrect reasons, it suggests that there should be an opportunity to appeal the action intending to remove the content.
Although the Code of Conduct is a voluntary agreement, and IT companies are private, the whole intention behind this partnership is a public regulation of freedom of expression. The fact that it is being carried out absolutely without legislation and completely without guarantees for the individual citizen’s rights is a major problem. It is hard to distance themselves from the impression that the European Commission has taken a shortcut in order to regulate the individual’s right to freedom of expression, something that would clearly otherwise face opposition.
Restrictions on the rights of individuals, such as freedom of expression, may only be made through legislation. Such legislation may also be adopted only if it has legitimate reasons that weigh heavier than the individual’s rights. Every individual subject to a restriction of his or her rights shall also have access to an effective remedy, an oppurtunity to repeal the act of suppression.
Equal concerns arise as to the work by reliable reporters. In principle, it is about establishing a private order force, except without any form of democratic control. But who checks that the trusted reporters work objectively and without political agendas?
The European Commission clearly states that it is the responsibility of the governments of other Member States to designate and provide reliable reporters. We also know that the network #Jagärhär has close and good contacts with the Swedish government. Most likely, one of the purposes of these contacts is to become a ‘reliable’ reporter in the opinion of the European Commission.
In other words, we see a future where organizations like # hunters here can more or less control what is being published on social media in Sweden. I can understand if there are good intentions behind the EU Commission’s actions. But at the same time it has created a rule of law. In the best case, the disadvantages can be limited to the fact that a bunch of reporters are being promoted to role of private police on social media.
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Read more: From 2018/02/26