Czechia passes law to stop spreading terrorist content online

The new law implements a EU directive meant to prevent people from spreading images of attacks or executions. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 23.02.2023 10:00:00 (updated on 23.02.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

President Miloš Zeman signed a bill against spreading terrorist content online into law yesterday, the Presidential Office reported.

Under the new law, the police will be able to order Czech and European internet service providers (ISPs) to block terrorist content, such as images of terror attacks or executions. The legislation is in response to a European Union directive on suppressing the spread of terrorist content online.

The EU directive requires each country to designate an authority to be in charge of overseeing removal orders. “Hosting service providers are obliged to remove terrorist content upon receiving a removal order from the designated authorities within one hour and to take measures when their platforms are exposed to terrorist content,” the European Commission stated.

Mainly a preventive measure

The Interior Ministry said in a report that from the Czech Republic’s point of view, the internal spreading of terrorist content online is not a fundamental security problem. “The occurrence of terrorist content in the Czech online environment is relatively low,” the Interior Ministry added.

The ministry says the new regulation is a tool in case the situation worsens, or if Czech ISPs are used to spread the content that was successfully deleted in other EU states. The law applies to publicly spread content only, not to private communication.

ISPs commit a misdemeanor if, for instance, they do not delete online terrorist content, do not prevent access to it, and do not take special measures after such content appears.

Responsibilities will be split

Possible implementation costs of the law will be covered by the budgets of the Interior Ministry, the Czech Police, and the Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ). It will be up to the police to assess whether something qualifies as terrorist content under the law. The Interior Ministry will deal with removal notices coming from other EU members and the ČTÚ will supervise preventive measures taken by ISPs.

The European Commission in January sent a letter of formal notice to the Czech Republic and 21 other EU members for their failure to implement parts of the relevant EU directive and gave the countries two months to respond.

President Zeman also signed the amendments to ban the sale of nicotine pouches to children and the use of non-refillable containers for fluorinated greenhouse gases. The legislation that the president signed yesterday will come into force 15 days after their promulgation in the Law Digest.

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