Ter­ror­ist Con­tent On­line

The internet must not be misused for radicalisation, recruitment or incitement to violence. Companies offering hosting services in the EU must therefore remove terrorist content within one hour of receiving a removal order from the national authorities. The Bundeskriminalamt and the Bundesnetzagentur are jointly responsible for implementing the relevant EU Regulation on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online.

Regulation (EU) 2021/784 on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online ("Terrorist Content Online Regulation", in short: TCO Regulation) entered into force on 7 June 2021. Its provisions have been applicable since 7 June 2022. The Regulation lays down uniform rules to address the misuse of hosting services for the dissemination to the public of terrorist content online. The provisions apply to companies offering hosting services in the EU, irrespective of whether or not their main establishment is located in an EU Member State. Authorities which have become aware of the publication of terrorist content online will issue an order requiring the content to be removed and/or access to the content to be disabled. Providers must comply with the order within one hour of receipt. Providers failing to comply with an order and systematically and persistently failing to comply with the provisions may be liable to a penalty of up to 4% of their global turnover of the preceding business year.

Competence

The responsibilities and tasks of the competent authorities in Germany are set out in the Act addressing terrorist content online (TerrOIBG, in German).

The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) is responsible for issuing orders requiring the removal of terrorist content and for scrutinising compliance with these orders. The dissemination of terrorist content counts as a criminal offence, which is why only the BKA – and not the Bundesnetzagentur – can order the removal of the content.

The Bundesnetzagentur is responsible for:

  • Overseeing the implementation of specific measures pursuant to Article 5 of the TCO Regulation:
    If a hosting service is repeatedly exposed to terrorist content, the provider must take specific measures to protect the service against terrorist content. Providers can essentially decide which specific measures to take, but they must act in a proportionate and non-discriminatory manner and take particular account of the fundamental rights of the users and the freedom of expression and information. This avoids the removal of legal content. The Bundesnetzagentur checks the measures taken and requests any necessary additional measures.
  • Imposing penalties pursuant to Article 18 of the TCO Regulation/Section 6 TerrOIBG:
    The Bundesnetzagentur can impose fines of up to €5mn in regulatory offence proceedings on providers failing to comply with their obligations. Legal entities with an annual turnover of more than €125mn can even be fined up to 4% of their global turnover of the preceding business year.

Designation of a legal representative (Article 16 of the TCO Regulation)

Hosting service providers which do not have their main establishment in the EU but which offer services in the EU must designate a legal representative in the EU. The legal representative is responsible for receiving, complying with and implementing decisions from authorities. If a provider's legal representative resides in Germany, notification of the designation must be sent to tco@bnetza.de by 27 October 2022.

A form for notification of the designation will be available here shortly.

A list with details of the designated legal representatives notified to the Bundesnetzagentur is available here: Art. 16 (4) TCO-VO – Liste gesetzlicher Vertreter (pdf / 37 KB).

Questions and answers

Please send any questions or complaints about terrorist content online to the email address given below.

Contact

Bundesnetzagentur für Elektrizität, Gas,
Telekommunikation, Post und Eisenbahnen

Referat 122
Tulpenfeld 4
53113 Bonn
Germany

E-Mail: tco@bnetza.de


Important Links

Regulation (EU) 2021/784 on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online
Terroristische-Online-Inhalte-Bekämpfungs-Gesetz – TerrOIBG (in German)