CJEU rules that Facebook can be ordered to take down illegal content

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that EU courts can demand Facebook to monitor and delete illegal material, in a ruling on Wednesday.

The EU’s top court ruled that there is nothing stopping Facebook being ordered to search and delete duplicate posts of content that has been declared illegal.

In Wednesday’s ruling the Court of Justice ruled that the Directive on electronic commerce, which seeks to strike balance between the different interests at stake, does not preclude a court of a Member State from ordering a host provider such as Facebook to remove information which it stores, the content of which is identical or equivalent to content previously declared to be unlawful, or to block access to that information, irrespective of who requested the storage of that information.

Under the Directive on electronic commerce, a host provider such as Facebook is not liable for stored information if it has no knowledge of its illegal nature or if it acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to that information as soon as it becomes aware of it. The exemption does not, however, prevent the host provider from being ordered to terminate or prevent an infringement, including by removing the illegal information or by disabling access to it.

The CJEU was asked to intervene in a case referred to by Austria’s Supreme Court which was brought by Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, chair of Austria’s Green party and former member of the Nationalrat (National Council).

The Green politician sued Facebook, demanding the platform to remove defamatory posts about her from a user and similar duplicate material. The Facebook user in question had shared on that user’s personal page an article from the Austrian online news magazine oe24.at entitled ‘Greens: Minimum income for refugees should stay’, accompanied by a comment that the Austrian courts found to be harmful to the reputation of Glawischnig-Piesczek.

CJEU also said that searches and deletion can be done in the EU but also worldwide should national courts demand it.