Dutch internet companies are coming under pressure from the government to censor comments and place limits on freedom of speech, the Financieele Dagblad said on Tuesday, quoting industry campaigners.
Justice ministry officials are asking providers and hosting companies to remove websites from the internet without any legal basis, industry representatives told the FD.
‘They are making us responsible for deciding if something is against the law,’ said Michiel Steltman, director of the Dutch Hosting Provider Association (DHPA). ‘We rent web space and platforms. But because the justice ministry can’t trace the tenant, they dump the problem on us.’
In particular, providers are critical of the government’s plan to tackle radicalisation and jihadism which involves curbing the spread of ideas supporting violence.
The paper did not give any examples of sites which have been shut down or videos which officials have requested be removed. But Steltman quoted the recent example of a video of a group of men sitting around a campfire firing guns and shouting ‘allahu akhbar’.
‘Have they just killed someone, are they angry that someone has been killed or have they killed a goat for a party?’ he said.
Alex de Joode, company lawyer with the Netherlands’ biggest hosting provider is also criticial. ‘We are not about checking ages and censorship,’ he said. ‘The government has the right legal instruments to remove content but chooses not to use it when it comes to claims of jihadism.’
Dutch counter terrorism chief Dick Schoof said in a reaction that he understands the providers position but that ‘I believe they should assist efforts to counteract jihadist radicalisation within the legal limits’.
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