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Parliament examining bill banning racist, xenophobic online content

February 28, 2019 at 10:25am

The Ministry of Justice has submitted a bill to Parliament banning racist and xenophobic content on the internet, Phileleftheros reported.

The bill proposes giving authorities the power to request a temporary injunction to block access or ban a website or content that is under investigation for racist or xenophobic abuse.

Police can only apply for an injunction on the instructions of the chief of police and with the approval of the attorney general. If the Court deems that there are grounds to approve the request it can issue a decree to temporarily ban the website or the racist content on it until the completion of the criminal proceedings.

The Court can also order the moderator of the website to remove the content immediately or set a deadline for them to do so.

Failure to do so is punishable with up to three years in prison and/or €170,000 in fines.

According to the explanatory memorandum submitted by the Justice Ministry, the bill is a necessary measure to combat the distribution of illegal racist or xenophobic content via the internet. People can take advantage of the anonymity that the internet provides, to cultivate divisions between certain population groups and also attract others with similar ideologies, it said.

Through the banning of racist content or blocking access to it, regardless of whether the perpetrator has been identified, the bill aims to compensate for the time lost by authorities in their search for the persons who have uploaded the content, in order to make prosecution possible, the Ministry argued.