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How does Europe protect us from illegal and harmful content on video sharing platforms?

European Audiovisual Observatory releases new comparative mapping report
Strasbourg, France 26 October 2021
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How does Europe protect us from illegal and harmful content on video sharing platforms?

Download "Mapping report on the rules applicable to video-sharing platforms" here

Video sharing platforms (VSPs) such as YouTube have opened up an incredible online world of content: films, music and even how-to-do tutorials are now available on a massive scale at a single click. However they can also be a potential source of harmful content for children and other sectors of society and contribute to the spread of illegal content inciting to violence and hatred. European media law has long contained provisions to try and limit potential damage to viewers on traditional media. However given that European audiovisual legislation was given a major overhaul in the shape of the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) in 2018, with the extension of its scope to video-sharing platforms, it's time to look at its new rules concerning new media. And as the deadline for transposition into national law was September 2020, it's useful to compare and contrast the different approaches currently in practice in the various European countries thanks to the European Audiovisual Observatory's new report, co-financed by the European Commission under the Creative Europe programme: Mapping report on the rules applicable to video-sharing platforms.

This report maps the different approaches of EU27 countries plus the UK and Norway. It's the result of intensive collaboration with a network of national correspondents in each country, coordinated by the Strasbourg-based Observatory.

The first chapter presents the key findings of the report and is followed by a second chapter on the methodology applied by the study. The third chapter contains the comparative analysis of the national regulatory framework, the measures imposed on VSPs in order to protect us from harmful and illegal content, their application in practice and enforcement. It also includes feedback from a number of stakeholders (Dailymotion, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch) on the measures they have put in place to comply with the new obligations. An overview of the most significant ongoing research and studies in the field is contained in chapter 4. The report is completed by 30 extensive country factsheets, each one mirroring the study of the comparative analysis.

Key findings of this new mapping report:

  • For the moment, the AVMSD provisions have been transposed into national legislation without much variation or further elaboration.
  • The AVMSD's definitions of what a video-sharing platform actually is have been transposed almost verbatim into national legislation.
  • The vast majority of measures included in the AVMSD aimed at protecting the public from certain content have been included in national legislation.
  • These measures put the emphasis on technical measures and flagging/notification systems to enable take-down of harmful content.
  • Efficient ways of dealing with user complaints are also part of the measures stipulated in the new AVMSD.
  • National regulatory authorities (NRAs) will assume a greater role in the regulation and enforcement of the new rules, their supervision and enforcement, dispute resolution and the development of self- and co-regulatory measures.
  • Both the NRAs and VSPs are called upon to launch media and information literacy activities. These should contain obligations for the VSPs themselves but should also concern a wider range of stakeholders too.
  • Some of the new measures cover areas dealt with by other public institutions, such as data protection. In such cases co-operative arrangements will be needed.
  • Given the cross-border nature of VSPs, the NRAs will need to enhance their cooperation in order to efficiently oversee the application of the new AVMSD rules.

So if you want to know more about how European legislation aims at protecting us from harmful and illegal content on video-sharing platforms… Read our new mapping report!

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