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Combating hate speech online and offline


Hate speech has harmful impacts on the individual victims, or groups of victims, but also on our society at large. Undermining the fundamental values of the EU, such as respect for human dignity, freedom and equality. Under EU law, racist and xenophobic hate motivated crime and speech are illegal. The Framework Decision on combating certain forms of expressions of racism and xenophobia[[2008/913/JHA.]] requires the criminalisation of public incitement to violence or hatred based on race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. The Commission’s policies address also specific forms of hate speech and hate crime against groups and communities[[SWD(2019) 110 final.]] (e.g. antisemitism[[COM/2021/615 final.]], anti-Muslim hatred or anti-gypsyism[[COM(2020) 620 final.]], hate speech and hate crime relating to gender and sexual orientation[[COM(2022) 105 final.]]. In 2021, the European Commission adopted a Communication[[COM(2021) 777 final.]] which prompts a Council decision to extend the current list of EU crimes in Article 83(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to all forms of hate crime and hate speech. Since 2016, the Commission’s efforts in countering hate speech and hate crime also involve dedicated exchanges and tools in support to national authorities in the context of the High Level Group on combating hate speech and hate crime.

Addressing hate speech from all angles increases the chance of combating it in a sustainable manner. Thus, in line with all the above initiatives and with the Victims Rights Directive[[DIRECTIVE 2012/29/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCI]] and the EU Strategy on Victims' Rights[[COM(2020) 258 final]], the successful proposal is expected to reinforce hate crime training and capacity building for Police Authorities and other relevant security practitioners, in particular to enhance their tools and methods for lawful detection, reporting and data/evidence collection and analysis of the hate speech related activities that are considered as crime or could lead to a crime, notably the ones supported by advanced digital technologies, such as in emerging cyber environments. By doing so, being an innovation action, the successful proposal is expected to build on previously developed tools for related applications (such as text and image matching). The successful proposal should also support the implementation of the voluntary Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online that the European Commission initiated in 2016 with IT companies, the European strategy for a better internet for kids[[COM/2022/212 final.]], the Digital Services Act[[Regulation (EU) 2022/2065 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 October 2022 on a Single Market For Digital Services and amending Directive 2000/31/EC.]] and the outcomes of the ""Study on digital violent right-wing extremist content and manifestations of hate speech online”[[]]. Similarly, any other relevant development, study or initiative should be taken into account. Evolutions in hate crime and hate speech, such as their sparks in times of social or economic crises (e.g. pandemics and wars) should be considered too. In order to derive effective responses and improve the understanding of the cultural and societal aspects of hate speech and hate crime, as well as of the key challenges for combating it, the successful proposal should include local, national and international dimensions, civil society perspectives, and analysis of good practices[[In line with the ""Key guiding principles on cooperation between law enforcement authorities and civil society organisations"":]]. An added value of the proposal would be to also develop modern and effective awareness raising campaigns for relevant Civil Society Organisations and Police Authorities in order to pass key messages to potential victims, as well as wide communities, while taking into account European multicultural dimension.

The successful proposal should build on the publicly available achievements and findings of related previous national or EU-funded projects, including the ones funded under topics: HORIZON-CL3-2021-FCT-01-03: Disinformation and fake news are combated and trust in the digital world is raised), HORIZON-CL2-2021-DEMOCRACY-01-03: Feminisms for a new age of democracy, HORIZON-CL2-2022-DEMOCRACY-01-04: Education for democracy, HORIZON-CL2-2022-DEMOCRACY-01-05: Evolution of political extremism and its influence on contemporary social and political dialogue and HORIZON-CL2-2022-TRANSFORMATIONS-01-08: Strengthening racial, ethnic and religious equality. It should also seek to exploit potential synergies with the successful proposals funded under topics HORIZON-CL3-2023-FCT-01-06: Enhancing tools and capabilities to fight advanced forms of cyber threats and cyber-dependent crimes, HORIZON-CL3-2023-FCT-01-03: New methods and technologies in service of community policing and transferable best practices, HORIZON-CL2-2023-DEMOCRACY-01-01: Detecting, analysing and countering foreign information manipulation and interference and HORIZON-CL4-2023-HUMAN-01-05: Through AI from Disinformation to Trust.

Methods for evaluating proposed solutions should also be developed. In addition, proposals should delineate the plans to develop possible future uptake and upscaling at national and EU level for possible next steps after the project completion.

Activities proposed within this topic should address, in a balanced way, both technological and societal dimensions of the issue under consideration.

This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related innovation activities.

Proposals funded under this topic are expected to engage with the Europol Innovation Lab during the lifetime of the project, including validating the outcomes, with the aim of facilitating future uptake of innovations for the law enforcement community.