Will European Parliament oppose Authoritarian Censorship?

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On the 12 December, the European Parliament will vote on the “Report on findings and recommendations of the Special Committee on Terrorism”. If adopted, this text would not be legally binding but would recommend the adoption of the measures included in the Anti-terrorism Censorship Regulation: outsourcing censorship to Internet Giants and bypassing national judges (read our last analysis).

La Quadrature du Net sends the following message to Members of the European Parliament, urging them to reject this Report:

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

Next Wednesday, 12 December, you will vote on the Report on findings and recommendations of the Special Committee on Terrorism.

These recommendations push for absurd security measures which would weaken fundamental freedoms. More specifically, the report pushes for the same measures provided for the Anti-terrorism Censorship Regulation that will be debated in a few weeks: weakening encryption, outsourcing censorship to Internet Giants and allowing any European police to bypass national judges (points BD, BH, 47, 113 and 125). For these reasons, we urge you to reject this Report.

Using the pretext of the fight against online radicalisation, the measures suggested by the Report and the Censorship Regulation would impose new obligations to all actors of the Internet: services hosting websites, blogs and videos, forum and social networks, press websites, email and messaging providers…

While the European Commission and European governments do not demonstrate in a convincing way the effectiveness nor the necessity of these obligations to fight against terrorism, these obligations would force all actors of the Internet to act on content whose dangerousness have not been assessed by a judge, and in a very short period of time.

These obligations are extremely dangerous for the entire European digital ecosystem. Indeed, the economic, human and technological means required to comply with these obligations are beyond the reach of almost all the actors of the Internet: very few will be able to answer 24/7 and within one hour to removal requests issued by any Member State. In a similar way, surveillance measures and automated censorship that national authorities will be able to impose are totally impracticable.

Thereby, to comply with these new constraints, small and medium-sized economic actors will outsource the execution of these obligations to the few Web giants that, because of their financial power, will be able to support it, Google and Facebook firstly. This outsourcing will lead to an economic and technical dependence that would highly damage the whole European digital economy.

Non-profit and collaborative organisations will have no other choice but to close down their activities.

This measures will therefore dramatically reduce Europe’s digital diversity and will submit the rest to a handful of companies which are already in a near-monopolistic situation, and whose hegemony should be disputed rather than reinforced (read our last analysis).

Finally, these measures would lead to mass surveillance of our online exchanges and to private and automated censorship of information.

For these reasons, La Quadrature du Net, with 58 other actors of the digital ecosystem and defenders of fundamental liberties, have already asked Emmanuel Macron to stop pushing for the Anti-terrorism Censorship Regulation.

We urge you to reject this Report in order to stop as soon as possible this absurd willingness to outsource Internet Censorship to Internet Giants and to allow any European police to bypass national judges.

MEPs refusing to protect fundamental freedoms and the European digital ecosystem will be publicly exposed.