Today, 17 April 2019, the European Parliament (EP) adopted its Report on the proposed Terrorist Content Regulation. Although it has been questioned whether this additional piece of law is necessary to combat the dissemination of terrorist content online, the European Union (EU) institutions are determined to make sure it sees the light of day.
The Regulation defines what “terrorist content” is and what the take-down process should look like. Fortunately, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have decided to include some necessary safeguards to protect fundamental rights against overbroad and disproportionate censorship measures. The adopted text follows suggestions from other EP committees (IMCO and CULT), the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, and UN Special Rapporteurs.
“The European Parliament has fixed most of the highest risks that the original proposal posed for fundamental rights online”, said Diego Naranjo, Senior Policy Advisor at EDRi.
“We will follow closely next stages’ developments, since any change to today’s Report could be a potential threat to freedom of expression under the disguise of unsubstantiated ‘counter-terrorism’ policies”, he further added.
European Digital Rights (EDRi) and Access Now welcome the improvements to the initial European Commission (EC) proposal on this file. Nevertheless, we doubt the proposal’s objectives will be achieved, and point out that no meaningful evidence has yet been presented on the need for a new European counter-terrorism instrument. Across Europe, the inflation of counter-terror policies has had disproportionate impact on journalists, artists, human rights defenders, and innocent groups at risk of racism.
“The proposed legislation is another worrying example of a law that looks nice politically during an election period because its stated objective is to prevent horrendous terrorist content from spreading online. But worryingly, the law runs the severe risk of undermining freedoms and fundamental rights online without any convincing proof that it will achieve its objectives”, said Fanny Hidvegi, Europe Policy Manager at Access Now.
“During the rest of the process, the very least the EU co-legislator must do is to maintain the basic human rights safeguards provided by the European Parliament’s adopted text”, she further added.
The next step in the process are trilogues negotiations between the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States. Negotiations are expected to start in September / October 2019.