The European Commission has told EU member states to "fast track" the body's online censorship powers under the Digital Services Act (DSA). (EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND)


EC tells Member States to ‘fast-track’ EU online censorship powers


The European Commission has told European Union Member States to “fast track” the bloc’s online censorship powers under the Digital Services Act (DSA).

Having come into effect for social media firms such as X and Facebook in August, the DSA requires such platforms to enforce EU-mandated censorship of online content the EC does not approve of.

With the final form of the legislation due to come into force in February 2024, Brussels is now asking Member States to effectively push this date forward by “informally” implementing the rest of the measures set out in the DSA.

These include the appointment of state-level authorities with the responsibility of enforcing the EU’s censorship scheme.

“The Commission is encouraging Member States to designate already now an independent authority to be part of a network of prospective Digital Services Coordinators, ahead of the legal deadline of February 17, 2024,” reads an EC press release.

Commissioners are also demanding the early implementation of an “incident response mechanism” between Brussels and national governments that they say would help enforce its censorship plan.

In an attempt to justify this latest move, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen referenced the recent Hamas terror attacks on Israel.

“Hamas’ terrorist attack has … led to an online assault of heinous, illegal content promoting hatred and terror,” she claimed.

“With our Digital Services Act, Europe now has strong rules to protect users, including vulnerable population groups, from intimidation and to ensure fundamental freedoms online.”

Such a statement is in keeping with claims made by other Commissioners who have repeatedly pushed for tighter online censorship in a bid to protect people from content depicting Hamas violence.

This desire to strip the European internet of subject matter relating to Hamas war crimes goes against the wishes of Israel itself.

“While we understand that the content is disturbing and very painful to watch, especially for us, we believe the world needs to see the truth and to know what atrocities took place in Israel,” Haim Regev, the Israeli Ambassador to the EU told Brussels Signal on October 17.

EC officials have openly ignored such anti-online censorship sentiments. A spokesman for the executive told Brussels Signal that the body considered such content as illegal and will work to see it deleted from the European internet.

“Content circulating online that can be associated to Hamas qualifies as terrorist content – it is illegal and needs to be removed under both DSA and TCO [terrorist content online rules] – as the organisations are listed on the EU’s terrorism list,” they said.