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European Parliament Must Vote (Again) Against Censorship

UPDATE: The text adopted on 10 September 2013 by the European Parliament "recommends the exchange of best practices between Member States on enforcement measures – such as on establishing white and black lists of illegal gambling websites", but no longer mentions censorship measure. Although the choice of MEPs could be seen as inconsistent, it is still a victory for citizens and for freedom of expression.

Paris, 9 September 2013 – During a plenary vote scheduled for 10 September 2013, the European Parliament will vote on a report of Ashley Fox (ECR - UK) on “Online gambling in the internal market”. On behalf of such laudable goals as child protection, fight against money laundering and addiction to gambling, the report calls for the setting up of dangerous online censorship. Thus, La Quadrature du Net warns the Members of the European Parliament and urges citizens to contact their representatives to ask them to remain opposed to these anti-democratic measures during the vote of tomorrow (by supporting the split vote on §19 - 1st part).

Adopted at the end of May 2013 in “Consumer protection” committee with 32 votes in favor and 3 against, the report of Ashley Fox (ECR - UK) on “Online gambling in the internal market” “recommends the exchange of best practices between Member States on enforcement measures – such as on establishing white and black lists of, and preventing access to, illegal gambling websites”1. The ineffectiveness and dangers of such measures have been well proven: many studies have highlighted the risk of content censorship, the high cost, and the ease to circumvent it for individuals benefiting from these illegal activities.

La Quadrature du Net reminds that the only effective way against these illegal activities is the removal of content directly at the source, on the servers, and taking to court the individuals who publish it. In the best case, the implementation of the censorship measures proposed in this report would be expensive and inefficient, and in the worst case, they would have a serious impact on the freedom of communication of citizens.

Nevertheless, the measures proposed by Ashley Fox seem to find support among some EPP and S&D MEPs. Both of these political groups appear unable to define a coherent position on this issue, thus, the outcome of the vote is difficult to predict, and a modest number of voices could change it. MEPs must reject this attempt to impose censorship online.

“As often with online content, some of our representatives think they can solve problems by hidding it and by imposing censorship. Unfortunately, this solution is pure display as it doesn't solve anything but is most likely to affect the freedom of communication for all citizens. Because it can only undermine the fundamental values of our democracy, censorship cannot solve any problem, legitimate or not, and should be banned and repealed where it already exists.” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. Item 19 of the report:
    ”19. Recommends the introduction of uniform, pan-European common security standards for electronic identification and cross border e-verification services; welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a directive on e-identification and authentication, which will allow for interoperability of national e-identification schemes where these exist; calls, therefore, for registration and identification procedures to be streamlined and made more efficient, notably in order to ensure efficient identification mechanisms and to prevent multiple accounts per player and access by minors to online gambling websites; recommends the exchange of best practices between Member States on enforcement measures – such as on establishing white and black lists of, and preventing access to, illegal gambling websites, jointly defining secure and traceable payment solutions, and considering the feasibility of blocking financial transactions – in order to protect consumers against illegal operators;”