NEW rules could force internet companies to remove content that promotes terrorism within an hour of them being informed.

The European Parliament’s civil liberties committee has already backed the parliament’s position and MEPs could start negotiations shortly with EU member states on the regulations.

Under them, EU countries would have to designate a competent authority and tell the European Commission, which would then publish a list with all the relevant bodies.

When these authorities flag terrorist content, a removal order would be sent to the internet platforms, which would have one hour to delete it or disable access to it in all EU member states.

There are also proposals to help smaller platforms – companies which have never received a removal order would be contacted 12 hours before their first order, when they would be given information on procedures and deadlines.

MEPs have also insisted that internet companies hosting content uploaded by users, such as Facebook or YouTube, should not be obliged to proactively identify terrorist content, something that these platforms claim would be a heavy burden for them.

Monitoring the information or actively seeking facts indicating illegal activity should be the responsibility of the competent national authority, they say.

While they want to to boost public security, they say they are also keen to protect free speech and press freedom.

Under the measures, which were backed by the parliament in April, internet companies could face penalties of up to 4% of their turnover if there are persistent breaches .

The Parliament’s rapporteur for the proposal, Daniel Dalton, said then: “There is clearly a problem with terrorist material circulating unchecked on the internet for too long.

“This propaganda can be linked to actual terrorist incidents and national authorities must be able to act decisively.

“Any new legislation must be practical and proportionate if we are to safeguard free speech.

“Without a fair process, there is a risk that too much content would be removed, as businesses would understandably take a ‘safety first’ approach to defend themselves.

“It also absolutely cannot lead to a general monitoring of content by the back door.”