European Parliament prepares for actual Internet Censorship using “Terrorism” as justification buzzword

Posted on May 26, 2016 by Rick Falkvinge

Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, groups in the European Parliament wants to give police the power to censor the Internet and even individual accounts with social media providers at will. This is not just a stark attempt to justify sharp reductions in liberty with the buzzword “terrorism”, it also flies in the face of the most fundamental anti-censorship principles. The Directive (sort of a European Federal Law) isn’t completed yet, but is starting to take shape, and it’s looking horrifying.

HAX in Brussels sounds the big alarm bell as the biggest power group in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party, has laid out its guidelines for what they want to see in this Terrorism Directive, and it’s horrifying:

“This would mean limiting the internet reach that ISIS and other extremist groups have on our social media networks. To ban them completely would be impossible as it is difficult enough to figure out who is an extremist recruiter and who isn’t on Facebook and Twitter, but we can certainly limit and delete their Facebook pages and bar their accounts. (…)

It has been agreed that Europol is to obtain greater powers to deal with the tackling of the terrorist threat online. New specialist units, monitored by an European Data Protection Supervisor and a Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group, will be set up that will be able to contact social network providers (Facebook, Twitter etc.) directly to ask that pages and accounts run by ISIS are shut down as fast as possible.”

It’s noteworthy here that not just the ordinary targets of censorship are mentioned, but there’s also discussion of direct police control over social network providers, even when located outside the European Union.

And of course, the Internet interprets censorship as damage to the network and routes around it. As we saw in the case of the Cookie Law, utter incompetence coupled with good intentions isn’t just harmless when regulating the Internet, it’s actually dangerous. There will always be trivial ways to escape mandated censorship, and the ones targeted – the “terrorists” – already know about all of them.

Thus, this idea of censorship falls flat in its face immediately in that it’s utterly ineffective, and so, shouldn’t be allowed proceed if anybody with brains had looked at it with a sound mind. But these are analog lawmakers we’re talking about. Offline-borns. People who get their emails printed for them by their secretaries, and think they therefore understand the net. (Yes, really.)

Joe McNamee of the European Digital Rights Initiative also sounds the big alarm bell in the piece Next year you’ll complain about the Terrorism Directive.

Privacy still remains your own responsibility.

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  1. Antimon555

    You write: “utter incompetence coupled with good intentions isn’t just harmless when regulating the Internet, it’s actually dangerous.”

    Then what about utter incompetence coupled with bad intentions?

    It’s pretty obvious that is the case here, maybe or maybe not the bad intentions are not by said politicians themselves, but by lobbyists for (in)security services, copyright industry, mass media, maybe banks, and so on.

    4 years ago
    1. Falkvinge

      You highlight something important: which intentions are good or bad is just a matter of what values you seek to defend. And when you’re defending vested interests at any costs, it’s dubious if your intentions are seen as good by most.

      4 years ago