By Soeren Kern
The European Union (EU), in partnership with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft, has unveiled a "code of conduct" to combat the spread of "illegal hate speech" online in Europe.
Proponents of the initiative argue that in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, a crackdown on "hate speech" is necessary to counter jihadist propaganda online.
Opponents counter that the initiative amounts to an assault on free speech in Europe. They say that the EU's definition of "hate speech" and "incitement to violence" is so vague that it could include virtually anything deemed politically incorrect by European authorities, including criticism of mass migration, Islam or even the European Union itself.
Some Members of the European Parliament have characterized the EU's code of online conduct — which requires "offensive" material to be removed from the Internet , and replaced with "counter-narratives" — as "Orwellian."