The European Union’s top court has ruled that countries can order Facebook to delete illegal content worldwide.
Some activists are criticizing the ruling and are saying that countries could potentially exploit this power and use it to silence their critics, as outlined by Reuters.
This new ruling means that Facebook can be forced to search for content that a national court finds to be illegal, rather than having to go through requests from countries asking to remove posts, which is the current process.
This decision comes a week after the European top court ruled that Google doesn’t have to follow Europe’s “right to be forgotten” law worldwide, as previously reported by MobileSyrup. In Canada, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner said that the E.U. decision will not affect the work being done in the country.
Facebook and other social media platforms can now be forced to comply with requests to remove content worldwide, even if the content is not illegal in some countries.
“EU law does not preclude a host provider like Facebook from being ordered to remove identical and, in certain circumstances, equivalent comments previously declared to be illegal,” the court stated.
“In addition, EU law does not preclude such an injunction from producing effects worldwide, within the framework of the relevant international law.”
It should be noted that the ruling for Facebook is restricted to court orders, and doesn’t work for instances where people claim that a certain post contains illegal content.
Facebook reacted to the ruling and stated that it is not the job of social media platforms to be ordered to monitor and delete speech.
“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 opens the door to obligations being imposed on internet companies to proactively monitor content and then interpret if it is ‘equivalent’ to content that has been found to be illegal,” the social media giant said in a statement.
Facebook is urging for the avoidance of a “chilling effect on freedom of expression.”