Freedom of Expression & Hate Speech in the EU’s Digital Age: ‘To What Extent Have the Approaches to 'Online Freedom of Expression' of both the Council of Europe and the European Union Demonstrated that Eu Law Is Fit for Purpose in the Digital Age? Following from This, What Lessons Can the EU Legislature Learn from the Aforementioned Approaches in Drafting Legislation on the Specific Issue of Online Hate Speech and How It Impacts upon Freedom of Expression?’

95 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2021

See all articles by Ruairí Harrison

Ruairí Harrison

RENFORCE, Utrecht University; DG-CONNECT, Unit F.2 (Digital Services and Platforms)

Date Written: June 30, 2020

Abstract

This thesis explores the European Commission's unenviable task of regulating the digital space to curb the prevalence of online hate speech whilst ensuring major platforms remain open forums for public debate. Considering the significant impact which new EU-wide rules tackling online hate speech would have on fundamental rights, particularly freedom of expression, the paper firstly explores the Council of Europe's approach to freedom of expression online. This opening chapter ensures human rights are at the foreground of upcoming critical analysis as the thesis progresses on to discuss both the EU legislature and the CJEU's approach to free speech online. The remainder of the thesis focuses solely on online hate speech, looking to diverging regulatory approaches of national legislatures and social media platforms. Within this, it becomes evident that constitutional values and the ethos of private companies impact how different players assess hate speech regulation. The concluding chapter compiles all the lessons learned in previous chapters to tease out how and why the EU must regulate online hate speech, putting forth the specific technological solution of ‘quarantining' hate speech as an appropriate means of protecting users’ against hate speech whilst not overly infringing upon freedom of expression.

Keywords: freedom of expression, online free speech, Council of Europe, ECHR, ECtHR, fundamental rights, hate speech, European Commission, 2016 Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online, European Union, Facebook, content moderation, authomated tools, digital regulation, online safety

Suggested Citation

Harrison, Ruairí, Freedom of Expression & Hate Speech in the EU’s Digital Age: ‘To What Extent Have the Approaches to 'Online Freedom of Expression' of both the Council of Europe and the European Union Demonstrated that Eu Law Is Fit for Purpose in the Digital Age? Following from This, What Lessons Can the EU Legislature Learn from the Aforementioned Approaches in Drafting Legislation on the Specific Issue of Online Hate Speech and How It Impacts upon Freedom of Expression?’ (June 30, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3913882 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3913882

Ruairí Harrison (Contact Author)

RENFORCE, Utrecht University ( email )

Achter Sint Pieter 200
Utrecht
Netherlands

DG-CONNECT, Unit F.2 (Digital Services and Platforms) ( email )

Rue de la Loi 200
Brussels, B-1049
Belgium

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