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Google, Meta, TikTok won Fight Against Austrian Online Content Rule

CIO Insider Team | Friday, 10 November, 2023
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Alphabet’s Google, Meta Platforms and TikTok won the backing of Europe’s top court in their fight against an Austrian law that requires them to stop hate speech to cancel or face fines up to ($10.69 million).

The Austrian law, passed in 2021 and which obliges Big Tech to publish regular reports of illegal content, comes amid mounting concerns worldwide about hateful posts.

The European Union now took on new rules called the Digital Services Act( DSA) which need large online platforms to do further to tackle illegal and harmful online content or threaten fines up to six percent of their annual turnover.

"A member state may not subject a communication platform provider established in another member state to general and abstract obligation," judges said.

"Such a national approach is contrary to EU law, which ensures the free movement of information society services through the principle of control in the Member State of origin of the service concerned," they said.

Google, Meta and TikTok challenged the Austrian law in an Austrian court, saying that it's contrary to an EU rule which says online service providers are only subject to the rules of the country where they're established, while countries where they give a service must refrain from applying their laws.

The trio first applied for an immunity from the Austrian Communications Regulatory Authority and, when that failed, appealed to the Federal Administrative Court, which also rejected the request.

The European Union now took on new rules called the Digital Services Act( DSA) which need large online platforms to do further to tackle illegal and harmful online content or threaten fines up to six percent of their annual turnover.

The companies appealed that decision to the Supreme Administrative Court of Austria, which asked the EU’s top court to weigh in.

The group argued the EU's system of open borders and free trade among its 27 member states should cover Big Tech companies from the additional burdens sought by Austrian regulators.

The three companies, which have their European headquarters in Ireland, say they should only be subject to Irish rules.

The Austrian court subsequently sought advice from the Court of Justice of the European Union( CJEU), which sided with the companies.

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