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Statistics show that hate crime in the UK is on the rise, with particular trigger points identified around Brexit and the London and Manchester terrorist attacks earlier this year. The online troll engaging in hate speech presents a particular legal challenge for those subjected to this abuse or intolerance, as well as websites that host user content.
The ISD's Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI) works to combat hate speech and extremism across Europe through its online counter-extremism hub in partnership with Facebook. OCCI is the first strategic non-governmental effort to mount a proportional response to the propagation of hate, violence and terrorism online. It delivers models that combine expertise from the technology, communications and marketing, and academic sectors to ‘upskill and upscale’ the civic response to online hate and extremism.
Hogan Lovells worked with Facebook to present on this topic at a recent seminar run by OCCI. Legally, this is an ever developing area covered by various criminal offences, where our fundamental right of free speech must also be protected. A lively discussion on issues, such as the role of a moderator when content needs to be removed, demonstrated the difficulties in achieving this balance.
- Helen Boniface and Helen McGowan