The heads of more than 20 tech firms, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Amazon arrived in Brussels for discussions on a hot-button issue. Tensions have soared between the industry and politicians across Europe over the last year as governments have amped up pressure on platforms to remove illegal content.
Commissioners in charge of home affairs, justice, and digital legislation all attended the meeting.
The CEOs spent half the day holed up in the Berlaymont, the European Commission’s headquarters, to hear whether the EU executive is planning to announce new legislation this spring that would require them to take down posts containing anything illegal, including terrorist material or hate speech.
The Commission has put off introducing hard EU law but threatened over the last year that it might resort to regulating companies if they don’t remove illegal posts on their own. Every few months, the Commission meets with some of the biggest platforms—Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook—to review how quickly they remove illegal posts as part of a non-binding agreement that the firms signed on to in 2016.
The Commission warned last September that it would give the companies a few more months to speed up their rate of removing that material, and promised to announce by May whether it will propose a law.