Stopping hate speech online: Europol coordinates first Europe-wide action day

[news release] In the first of its kind, Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre coordinated a Europe-wide joint action day to target racist and xenophobic hate speech on the internet. The operation, led by Germany, took place in Czechia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom. 

On the action day, 3 November 2020, law enforcement authorities raided 97 locations and interrogated a number of individuals in relation to offences such as dissemination of racist and xenophobic hate speech, calls to violence and incitement to commit offences. In Germany alone, officers searched 81 houses.

The coordinated action targeted communities and individuals spreading hate via the internet using different types of content such as posts, comments, and memes that spread hate and propaganda. The operation, targeting no specific organisations or groups, aimed at preventing hate crime, racism and xenophobia circulating online. Law enforcement worked together to also increase awareness of individuals and groups that the World Wide Web is not a legal vacuum. Supposed anonymity does not hinder law enforcement from taking measures against unlawful acts. This first joint action day on hate crimes sends a clear signal to individuals spreading violent hatred on the internet that their actions will be detected.

Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre supported this initiative of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) from the start with operational coordination and facilitation of information exchange. Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre monitored all contributions, provided analytical support and an overview on the operational activities in continuous and direct contact with the involved law enforcement authorities. The action was supported also by Finland and other countries through awareness raising on national social media platforms.

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