EU Censorship Law Faces First Test Amid Tucker Carlson Interviews

The airing of Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin in the United States poses a formidable challenge to the European Union’s stringent regulations targeting tech firms, including X and Facebook. The European Commission is concerned that the interview will serve as a medium for Putin’s “distorted ambition to restore” the Russian empire, sparking apprehension within the EU regarding its possible exploitation in Putin’s propaganda efforts.

The EU spokesperson for foreign affairs expressed skepticism about Putin’s credibility, referring to him as a chronic liar. The worry is that clips from the interview will spread across social media, particularly on Elon Musk’s X platform, giving the Russian leader a propaganda advantage.

However, during a press conference, the European Commission clarified that X and other platforms would be obligated under the bloc’s Digital Services Act, which came into effect last year, to remove illegal content. The law aims to eradicate illegal or harmful content that incites violence or hate speech from social media.

All major platforms, except for X, have committed to a code of conduct to expedite the development of internal procedures for compliance with the law. Musk’s platform is currently under investigation for alleged non-compliance.

Thierry Breton, the European Union’s Commissioner for the Digital Sector, has stated that platforms must verify the legality of their host content. Should they become aware of any illegal material, they must remove it swiftly. The spokesperson highlighted that this obligation stems from recent legislation, noting that there has been no communication with Elon Musk or Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg concerning the interview, underscoring that it is their sole responsibility to ensure compliance with EU laws.

Failure to comply with the new EU law can result in hefty fines or a ban on operating in the EU for social media platforms. While Putin and his network of oligarchs and associates have already faced sanctions in the EU, there have been no discussions about imposing sanctions on Carlson over the interview.

When asked if the Putin interview could be seen as an opportunity to counter the perceived one-sided media in Brussels, the EU spokesperson for foreign affairs highlighted Putin’s actions, including killing people, bombing infrastructure, and conducting a disinformation campaign against the European Union. They emphasized that such behavior is considered a threat to European societies and cannot be tolerated.

Tucker Carlson, previously associated with Fox News and a prominent supporter of Donald Trump’s 2024 election campaign, made a trip to Moscow to conduct what became the first interview by a Western journalist with Vladimir Putin since the onset of Russia’s military action in Ukraine in February 2022. The visit received widespread attention from Russian state media, highlighting Carlson’s critical views on Ukraine.