Digital rights community: “Charlie Hebdo tragedy must not be used by governments to expand surveillance”

Brussels – Today more than 20 digital and civil rights organisations, including Access, EDRI, EFF,, Article 19, ORG, PEN International, Fundación Karisma and La Quadrature du Net, released a joint statement calling on world leaders to resist expanding surveillance measures in wake of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. Read the full statement and view the list of signers here.

“Charlie Hebdo journalists fought all their lives for an open democratic society where everyone could speak freely,” said Access Policy Analyst Estelle Massé. “It’s ironic, then, that in response to the attack some are suggesting short-sighted national security reforms that would ultimately undermine our privacy, our civil liberties, and everything these cartoonists stood for.”

Earlier this month, the French government asked to move forward two proposals that would drastically impact human rights — a problematic EU Passenger Name Record agreement that has been discussed in Brussels since 2011, and ad-hoc measures for internet platforms to monitor hate speech.

Both agreements stand to trample our civil liberties. The establishment of an EU Passenger Name Record agreement would enable governments to store, access, and profile the passenger data of millions of Europeans, exponentially expanding their surveillance capacity. Other new measures would compel internet platforms like Google and Facebook to monitor and censor online content, a violation of our basic right to free expression.

In response, the coalition of digital rights groups released a statement calling for world governments to:

  • Invite the French government to conduct a thorough evaluation of relevant policies, before enacting new laws and policies that can harm fundamental rights;
  • Ensure the protection and defence of national level human rights protections, particularly free expression and privacy online and offline;
  • Engage citizens and institutions in a public dialogue on targeted solutions that can help protect society while upholding human rights;
  • Defend a free and open society where human rights are not only protected, but celebrated, and where diverse viewpoints, including the satirical perspectives embraced by Charlie Hebdo, can be expressed online and offline.

“Increasing the scope and scale of government surveillance is not the answer to our societal problems,” Massé continued. “If world leaders want to honor Charlie Hebdo, they must promote a society that honors freedom of expression and human rights above all.”

Go here to access the full text of the statement and the list of signatories.