European Ombudsman surveillance

Looking tough, but hampering rights: civil society organisations say no to online Terrorism Regulation

Access Now, European Digital Rights (EDRi), Civil Liberties Union for Europe, and 58 other civil society organisations are urgently calling on Members of the European Parliament to reject the proposed Terrorism Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online.

“The proposed Terrorism Regulation has the power to undermine the protection of fundamental rights across the European Union and beyond,” said Eliška Pírková, Europe Policy Analyst at Access Now. “The framing sounds like it’s tough on terrorism — a rhetoric we would all support. In reality, it will place people’s fundamental rights, artistic freedoms and journalistic content in jeopardy, while missing its mark.” 

The proposed Regulation is headed for a final vote in the plenary of the European Parliament in April 2021. Through an open letter, the coalition urges Members of the European Parliament to vote against the adoption of the proposal because: 

  • It continues to incentivise online platforms to use automated content moderation tools, such as upload filters;
  • There is a severe lack of independent judicial oversight; and
  • Member States will issue cross-border removal orders without any checks, seriously undermining the judicial cooperation in the EU. 

Discussions around the Terrorism Regulation have been ongoing since 2018, attracting warnings from  human rights organisations, journalists associations, and researchers, on the serious threat it poses to freedom of expression and opinion, freedom to access information, right to privacy, and the rule of law. 

Through an extended debate that included civil society voices, a number of the proposal’s problematic issues have been addressed. Yet, the latest iteration of the proposed Regulation contains measures that will ultimately weaken the protection of fundamental rights in the EU, while providing space where a dangerous precedent for online content regulation worldwide could gain a foothold.

The coalition’s message is clear: as it currently stands, the proposed Terrorism Regulation has no place within EU law.