Heads of state in Europe, North America and Japan will be invited by the Council of Europe (CoE) to sign an international treaty banning racist content online.

As part of the Convention on Cybercrime the CoE is seeking to criminalize "acts of a racist and xenophobic nature conducted through computer systems". It will be presented to members for signature from January 27 to January 31 at the council's next parliamentary assembly session.

The Council of Europe brings together 44 European countries as full members, with Canada, Japan, Mexico and the US admitted as observers to the Council of Ministers. The Council is unrelated to the European Union.

The aims of the protocol are to harmonize criminal law and to improve international cooperation in fighting racism and xenophobia.

The protocol defines racist and xenophobic material as: “Written material, images or other representations of ideas or theories advocating, promoting or inciting hatred, discrimination or violence against individuals or groups, based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin, or religion if used as a pretext for any of these factors.”