Last chance for European Parliament to reject mass censorship

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Tomorrow, the 17th April, the whole European Parliament will vote on the Anti-terrorism Regulation. This Regulation would enable mass, unchecked and political censorship as well as destroying the free and open Web (read our complete analysis).

While La Quadrature is still urging Members of the European Parliament to reject this useless text (read our letter sent to them last week), some new amendments may reduce a bit the harm done in the eventuality of the text not being rejected (read all tabled amendments and our voting list).

The “one hour” takedown

The Greens, GUE and S&D (the three left-wing political groups of the Parliament) all have tabled amendments to suppress the obligation to remove content within “one hour” after being notified by the authorities. As we have always explained, such a short timeframe is unpractical for all but the biggest Web platforms. Unless this timeframe is removed, small and medium platforms will have to cease their activities or to submit to the Google and Facebook moderation tools.

We urge Members of the European Parliament to adopt the following amendments, which may protect the open and free Web from such a destruction by removing this absurd timeframe: amendments 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 164.

Political censorship

Despite our calls, no political group has tabled any amendment requiring that only judges (and not the police) may require Web platforms to remove content deemed “terrorist”. All Members of the European Parliament must be held responsible for such a destruction of the separation of powers which will only lead to political censorship (as is the case in France).

The last chance to win this fight would be for the whole text to be rejected. In case we lose, we will never forget how all political groups renounced to protect us from governments.

Automated filters

Still, another fight may be won. Last week, the LIBE Committee (“civil liberties”) refused to give authorities the power to directly order Web platforms to use automated filters. LIBE also refused to pressure these platforms through a general obligation to implement “proactive measures” or through “referrals” sent by authorities (forcing them to check whether a content may be regarded as “terrorist”).

The EPP (biggest right-wing political group) has tabled amendments proposing to delete most of these new protections. On these parts, Members of the European Parliament must entirely refuse such changes and keep the text as adopted in LIBE. Thus, they must vote in favor of the following amendments tabled by the LIBE Committee: 18D, 66, 83D, 85, 86D, 88.

We’ll be in Strasbourg tomorrow to follow this vote and keep you updated.