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EU seeks to require internet firms to remove extremist content

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission will propose legislation this month requiring Google <GOOGL.O>, Facebook <FB.O>, Twitter <TWTR.N> and other internet companies to remove extremist content and cooperate with law enforcement authorities.

The Commission told such companies in March that they had three months to show they were removing extremist content more rapidly or face legislation forcing them to do so. It recommended removal should occur within an hour of a company being notified of the existence of extremist content.

European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told a news conference on Wednesday that an existing code of conduct to counter illegal hate speech could remain voluntary.

“(But on) terrorist content, we came to the conclusion that it is too serious a threat and risk for European people that we should have absolute certainty that all the platforms and all the IT providers will delete the terrorist content and will cooperate with law enforcement bodies,” she said.

She said the Commission’s proposal would be ready later this month. EU governments and the European Parliament would have to approve any new law.

“Yes, this is in the final stage,” she said.

The Commission agreed the code of conduct on hate speech with Facebook, Microsoft <MSFT.O>, Twitter and YouTube in 2016. Other companies have since announced plans to join it.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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