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EU Governments Push Global Alliance for Net Censorship

Paris, June 8th, 2012 - In an unanimous decision, EU Member States have decided to promote website censorship at the global scale under the pretext of tackling child pornography. This dangerous initiative must be denounced by lawmakers and citizens: Europe cannot give up on its commitment to the rule of law by legitimizing Net censorship internationally.

The Council of the EU adopted conclusions on "a Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online". Due to a last-minute addition, the document calls for:

"facilitating measures to remove or, where appropriate, block websites containing child pornography".

So far, thanks to the EU Parliament, the EU had successfully avoided promoting website blocking as a tool against child abuse, these measures being inefficient and even counterproductive. The Parliament even imposed important safeguards on Member States who did choose to implement at the national level.

This new initiative marks a dangerous regression: regardless of the goals invoked, website blocking is extremely dangerous for freedoms online, leading to collateral censorship of perfectly legitimate content, and runs counter to the most important principles of the rule of law1.

"It is baffling to see that no EU government opposed the adoption of these conclusions, which legitimize Internet censorship across the world and will therefore have disastrous consequences for freedoms online. In spite of the strong reservations expressed by the European Parliament, governments choose to force through website blocking with the adoption of this document. Such censorship is ineffective for its stated aim and paves the road for other damaging attacks against the free Internet. Only through citizen mobilization will we be able to make our governments accountable and eventually safeguard a universal Internet." said Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.