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Latest News

EU leader urges MEPs to back green growth plan

EU leader urges MEPs to back green growth plan EU leader urges MEPs to back green growth plan
The EU's top official Wednesday launched the bloc's new "Green Deal", hailing it as a strategy for jobs and economic growth, not just for cutting...
Read More...

From Algeria to Hong Kong, a year of anti-establishment rage

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Angry citizens have swelled the streets of cities across the globe this year, pushing back against a disparate range of policies but often...
Read More...

EU chief slams 'severe' budget cut threat

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  European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday slammed plans by member states to impose drastic cuts on the EU budget, which...
Read More...

Leaked EU audit shows Czech PM in conflict of interest: report

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A leaked European Commission audit has concluded that billionaire Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has a conflict of interest as he still...
Read More...

NATO's birthday overshadowed by top-level feuding

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NATO marks its 70th birthday at a summit next week but the celebration could well turn into an arena of political combat between the alliance's...
Read More...

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Former EU Council President Donald Tusk pledged Wednesday to fight against political populism as he was set to be elected leader of Europe's...
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EU calls for all sides in Hong Kong to avoid violence

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The European Union on Monday (Nov 18) urged restraint on all sides in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protesters have been clashing with police,...
Read More...

Belarus polls showed 'lack of respect' for democracy: monitors

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Parliamentary polls in Belarus lacked respect for democracy and denied basic freedoms to voters and candidates, international vote observers...
Read More...

Dutch flaunt Brexit booty with EU agency opening

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The Netherlands showed off the spoils of Brexit on Friday as it officially handed over the European Medicines Agency's new building in Amsterdam...
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Facebook on Wednesday was dealt a major blow in the EU's top court, which ruled that national courts in Europe can order online platforms to remove

The decision will be seen as a victory for EU regulators, who are ambitious to see US tech giants meet tightened European standards over hate speech and offensive content.

Last week, the same court decided that Google was not legally compelled to apply the EU's strict "right to be forgotten" rules globally, in a victory for the search giant.

In a closely watched judgment, the European Court of Justice said EU law "does not preclude" courts from ordering "the removal of information or to block access worldwide," a statement said.

The latest case was brought originally to an Austrian court by Greens party politician Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, who requested the removal of Facebook posts that the judges found defamed her and could be seen by users of the social network around the world.

The complaint also concerned messages from fictitious accounts, which according to the Greens, had called Glawischnig-Piesczek a "corrupt" person and which the social network refused to delete.

A higher Austrian court referred the case to the EU's top court for an opinion and the judgment, which cannot be appealed, will now be used as a reference Europe-wide.

With the decision, Facebook and similar platforms such as Twitter, face a greater obligation to monitor their content and take down content found to be offensive or hateful, even from fake accounts.

Facebook slammed the EU court's decision, saying "it undermines the long-standing principle that one country does not have the right to impose its laws on speech on another country."

It also deplored the obligation to track down "equivalent" content that duplicates offensives or hateful language.

- 'Chilling effect' -

"In order to get this right, national courts will have to set out very clear definitions on what 'identical' and 'equivalent' means in practice," a Facebook statement said

"We hope the courts take a proportionate and measured approach, to avoid having a chilling effect on freedom of expression," it said.

Glawischnig-Piesczek, the victim of the hate speech, hailed the decision as "a historic success for human rights against web giants".

"It in no way infringes freedom of opinion," Glawischnig-Piesczek told the Austrian news agency APA.

EU-wide rules on hate speech are limited.

So far, online giants including Google's Youtube, have agreed to voluntarily take down hateful or dangerous content, including those linked to terrorism, within 24 hours.

However, the EU is expected to propose tougher Europe-wide measures including fines if Facebook and others fail to comply with orders.afp, photo by Denis Charlet

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