On September 26, 2018, an improvised explosive device planted at the foot of a bridge exploded, killing eight soldiers in the lead vehicle of a Burkinabe military convoy traveling in northern Burkina Faso.
Last week, Mozilla reiterated its previous remarks opposing the European Union’s Terrorist Content regulation with the claim that legislation to mandate the removal of terror content within an hour of being alerted would violate “fundamental rights” and “due process online.” This time around, it made the absurd assertion that there is “nothing” that suggests strict, enforced timelines to remove terrorist content would reduce threats of terrorism. Mozilla’s underlying assumption that defending a “free and open web” preempts regulation to improve society’s safety is naïvely idealistic and out-of-touch with the dangers metastasizing all over the web.
San Francisco-based Cloudflare’s Head of European Public Policy promoted Mozilla’s blog post in a tweet and confirmed that Cloudflare shared concerns about establishing processes to remove offending content in a timely manner. As the Counter Extremism Project has profiled in the past, Cloudflare is notorious for providing services to terrorist organizations like the Taliban and Hamas, and neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups such as the Atomwaffen Division affiliated Siege Culture. It should come as little surprise that Cloudflare shares Mozilla’s concerns about the compliance costs of the EU’s regulation; having to abide by the Terrorist Content legislation, like Germany’s NetzDG legislation before it, could not only hit Cloudflare with compliance costs, but also with a smaller customer base.
“Mozilla styles itself as a ‘not-for-profit’ that puts ‘people before profit’ as a lens through which it can make arguments against regulation. Mozilla needs to take a look in the mirror when pernicious, for-profit organizations like Cloudflare join in parroting its tired talking points every time efforts are made to mitigate terror and harm on the web,” said CEP Executive Director David Ibsen. “Europe’s efforts to tackle extremism online came only after these corporations passed up multiple chances to implement industry-wide reform themselves. Quite frankly, it is laughable that they continue to believe the public will take their concerns in good-faith, given their history of indiscriminate opposition to any sensible legislation.”
CEP released “Recommendations On Tackling Extremist Content Online” in anticipation of the European Commission’s proposals for removing terrorist content online. CEP’s research definitively demonstrates that terrorist videos received hundreds of views within two hours of being online, contra Mozilla’s claim that a 60-minute timeline for takedowns would have no effect on the spread and threat of terrorism. The research further contradicted companies’ claims that they were stepping up their content monitoring in response to the dissemination of violence and propaganda online.
Mozilla – an Internet giant in its own right – also purports to be opposing regulations on behalf of smaller, family-run online services that may not be able to bear the costs of regulation. However, CEP’s NetzDG Research Report shows that even Change.org, hardly a small company, only experienced a mere €5,000 – or one percent of its total annual revenue – in NetzDG compliance costs.
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