Austria prepares fines of up to $12 million for IT giants

Austria is planning to pass a bill aimed at combating hateful content on social networks. The document will apply to Internet platforms with more than 100 thousand users and an annual income of €500 thousand.

Failure to comply with the law will result in fines of up to $12 million for IT giants, and in case of non-payment, the authorities intend to receive money from the violator's advertising partners.

Austria against hatred

The Austrian government intends to oblige major Internet platforms such as Facebook and Google to promptly remove inappropriate content and impose fines of up to 10 million euros ($12 million) for failure to comply with these obligations. The bill will apply to IT giants with over 100 thousand users and an annual income of more than 500,000 euros. This will protect victims of hateful content on the Web, said the country's Minister of Justice, Alma Tsadik.

“The Internet is not a lawless space. Our rule of law extends to the Web as well, ” said the head of the department, quoted by Reuters. Internet platforms, according to the bill, will have to remove obviously criminal content within 24 hours from the date of receipt of the complaint, and other illegal records — no later than a week. Facebook declined to comment on this legislative initiative.

The Austrian Digital Service Providers Association (ISPA), representing more than 200 companies, including Google Austria GmbH and Facebook Germany GmbH, welcomed the emergence of a bill against the dissemination of hateful content but called on the European Union to join forces in the fight against the problem.

“Only a unified pan-European regulation can become a successful example for the spread of this practice around the world. Separate attempts to solve the problem will not allow us to move on, ” the association said in a statement.

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