By Tim Cushing

A lot of laws have been passed in Europe that regulate the content American companies can carry. Most of these laws were passed to tamp down on speech that would be otherwise legal in the United States, but not so much in Europe where free speech rights aren’t given the same sort of protections found in the US.

Since most of the larger tech companies maintained overseas offices, they were subject to these laws. Those laws targeted everything from terrorist-related content to “hate speech” to whatever is currently vexing legislators. Attached to these mandates were hefty fines and the possibility of being asked to exit these countries completely.

Of course, the most important law governing content takedown demands was passed much, much earlier. I’m not talking about the CDA and Section 203 immunity. No, it’s a law that required no input from legislators or lobbyists.

The law of unintended consequences has been in full force since the beginning of time. But it’s never considered to be part of the legislative process, despite hundreds of years of precedence. So, while the consequences are unintended, they should definitely be expected. Somehow, they never are.

And that brings us to this report [PDF] from The Future of Free Speech, a non-partisan think tank operating from the friendly confines of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. (h/t Reason)

Legislators in three European countries have made many content-related demands of social media services over the past decade-plus. The end result, however, hasn’t been the eradication of “illegal” content, so much as it has been the eradication of speech that does not run afoul of this mesh network of takedown-focused laws.

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