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EU Court Says Member Countries Can Order Worldwide Facebook Takedowns

The European Union Court of Justice has ruled that member states can request worldwide takedowns of stored Facebook content.

That came in a ruling Oct. 3.

"EU law does not preclude a host provider such as Facebook from being ordered to remove identical and, in certain circumstances, equivalent comments previously declared to be illegal," the court ruled, but adding that blocking access worldwide would have to comport with international law.

An Austrian politician had sued Facebook Ireland over a post the Austrian courts ultimately found to be defamatory, a post that could be accessed by anyone on Facebook. Austria's Supreme Court sought the Court of Justice's interpretation on how it could proceed given that under the directive on electronic commerce Facebook is not liable for stored information if it does not have knowledge of its illegal nature or moves quickly to remove it.

The Court of Justice concluded that the directive, which attempts to balance different interests, does not preclude a member state from ordering Facebook, or by extension other social media platforms, from ordering worldwide takedowns.