Terrorist Regulation : LIBE Committee votes for authoritarian censorship

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This Monday, the LIBE Committee voted for the anti-terrorist Regulation. This new regulation will force every actor of the Web’s ecosystem to block in under an hour any content reported as “terrorist” by the police, and without a judge’s prior authorisation.

As we have been saying for two years now:

  • the one hour deadline is unrealistic and only big (economic) platforms will be able to comply with such strict obligations;
  • with the threat of heavy fines and because most of them will not be able to comply whith the removal orders, it will force Web actors to censor proactively any potentially illegal content upstream, using automated tools of mass surveillance developed by Google and Facebook;
  • such a power given to the police can lead to the censorship of political opponents and social movements;
  • the text allows an authority from any Member State to order removal in another Member State. Such cross-border removal orders are not only unrealistic but can only worsen the danger of mass political censorship.

Most of all, in June 2020, the very same obligation to remove within one hour any “terrorist” content notified by the police has been deemed unconstitutional by the French Constitutional Council. It was decided that such an obligation was a disproportionate infringement to the freedom of expression.

Members of the LIBE Committee voted the text nonetheless. As the decision of the French Constitutional Council was widely publicised, it means that MEPS and especially French MEPS who voted the text, did it knowing that it would be unconstitutionnal in France. They must take responsibility for it.

We have been working on this text since its first presentation in September 2018. Yesterday was an important step for its final adaptation, despite its consequences on censorship and surveillance of the Internet. Sadly, it happened without any debate or even a public vote (we are still waiting for the official results).

Next step will be the plenary session. We are ready to continue our fight for the rejection of this dangerous text.