In a letter to Pichai, Thierry Breton, commissioner for internal market of the European Union, reminded the “precise obligations regarding content moderation under the EU Digital Services Act” and asked the company to be “very vigilant to ensure strict compliance” following the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel.
He also addressed the letter to Neal Mohan, CEO of YouTube, saying that the company has an “obligation to protect the millions of children and teenagers using your platforms in the EU from violent content depicting hostage taking and other graphic videos.”
Read Breton’s letter to the Google CEO:
Dear Mr Pichai,
In light of a number of serious recent developments, and given the extensive reach of Alphabet’s online video sharing and social media platform YouTube, I would like to recall the precise obligations regarding content moderation under the EU Digital Services Act and ask you to be very vigilant to ensure strict compliance.
Following the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel, we are seeing a surge of illegal content and disinformation being disseminated in the EU via certain platforms.
In this context, I would firstly like to remind you that you have a particular obligation to protect the millions of children and teenagers using your platforms in the EU from violent content depicting hostage taking and other graphic videos.
This means having appropriate and proportionate measures in place to ensure a high level of privacy, safety and security for minors.
Secondly, when you receive notices of illegal content in the EU, you must be timely, diligent and objective in taking action and removing the relevant content when warranted. Given the urgency, I also expect you to be in contact with the relevant law enforcement authorities and Europol and ensure that you respond promptly to their requests.
Thirdly, you need to have in place proportionate and effective mitigation measures to tackle the risks to public security and civic discourse stemming from disinformation. As many users turn to your platform as a source of news, reliable sources should be adequately differentiated from terrorist propaganda and manipulated content, such as repurposed videos or clickbaits.
This brings me to a second area of pressing concern: tackling disinformation in the context of elections, a priority which we personally discussed when we met in Brussels in May.
I remind you that the DSA requires that the risk of amplification of fake and manipulated images and facts generated with the intention to influence elections is taken extremely seriously in the context of mitigation measures. I invite you to inform my team on the details of the measures you have taken to mitigate any deepfakes, also in the light of upcoming elections in Poland, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Belgium, Croatia, Romania and Austria, and the European Parliament elections.
Notwithstanding the fact that my team will follow up with a specific request on a number of issues to establish DSA compliance, I urge you to proactively report in a prompt, accurate and complete manner to the aspects raised in this letter.
As you know, following the opening of a potential investigation and a finding of non-compliance, penalties can be imposed.
cc: Mr Neal Mohan, CEO of YouTube
The letter comes a few days after Pichai sent a message to employees working in Israel. He also said that the company is working to provide reliable, accurate information to people through its products.