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Commission's Plan for Online Gambling: Risk of Anti-Democratic Censorship, Again

Paris, 24 October 2012 – While the European Commission sets out an action plan for online gambling, La Quadrature du Net warns about the risk of Internet content censorship, and urges Member States's governments to refuse the instrumentalisation of child protection for unacceptable measures.

In the name of child protection and of the fight against money laundering and fraud, the European Commission is once again encouraging the development of online content filters:

The Commission is encouraging the development of better age-verification tools and online content filters.

As shown by numerous examples in the past, the instrumentalisation of this kind of legitimate pledge often hides the worst anti-democratic measures. Content filtering has already proven ineffective to tackle issues that the Commission says it needs to deal with: the only effective way is to remove content directly from the source, that is to say on the server where they are hosted, and to arrest individuals benefiting from these illegal contents.

Once established, censorship through filtering could easily be extended to other categories of content, for example in the interest of entertainment lobbies. International mechanisms already exist to fight money laundering, and must be used and strenghtened. Filtering of Internet content must be banned for the future, and repealed where it already exist, such as in France.

“Once again, the European Commission is trying to implement dangerous filtering measures through proposals that appear legitimate and respectable. But other measures would be much more effective and less problematic in a freedom of expression perspective. Access to the Internet is now essential to participate in public debate and for access to knowledge. Under no pretext must we allow Internet censorship to develop, or else we will profoundly undermine the most fundamental values of our democracy.” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

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