The second EU-wide joint action day against hate crime, supported by Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) and led by France, targeted racist and xenophobic hate speech and other hate crimes on the internet and in the real world. The operation took place in 11 countries.
The action day on April 7 saw law enforcement authorities raid multiple locations across Europe and target 176 individuals in relation to offenses such as dissemination of racist and xenophobic hate speech, calls to violence, and incitement to commit offenses. For example in Austria, authorities carried out 12 house searches, interrogated eight individuals and seized electronic devices, mobile phones, weapons and propaganda material. Meanwhile, Spanish authorities targeted five individuals and arrested four of them for disseminating hate speech online.
The action also included a coordinated referral activity targeting the online hate speech component of investigated cases in Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain. This resulted in 58 pieces of content on three platforms being assessed for referral to online service providers for their voluntary review against their terms and conditions. The coordinated action targeted communities and individuals using different types of content such as posts, comments, and memes to spread hate and propaganda via the internet while seizing computer devices and other evidence materials.
The operation, targeting no specific organizations or groups, aimed at preventing hate crime, racism and xenophobia from proliferating online and offline. Law enforcement also worked together to increase awareness of individuals and groups that the internet is not a legal vacuum.
Supposed anonymity does not hinder law enforcement from taking measures against unlawful acts; this second joint action day on hate crime sends a clear signal to individuals spreading violent hatred on the internet that their actions will be detected and attributed.
The ECTC supported this initiative of French Gendarmerie / OCLCH from the start, providing operational coordination and facilitating the exchange of information between the participating authorities. The ECTC monitored all contributions, provided analytical support, and gave a continuous overview on the operational activities through direct contact with the involved law enforcement authorities.