On 1 March 2018, the European Commission proposed a “Recommendation” on the surveillance and filtering of the internet by online companies.

“The European Commission is pushing ‘voluntary’ censorship to internet giants to avoid legislation that would be subject to democratic scrutiny and judicial challenge”, said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights (EDRi). “Today’s Recommendation institutionalises a role for Facebook and Google in regulating the free speech of Europeans. The Commission needs to be smart and to finally start developing policy based on reliable data and not public relations spin”, he added.

European Digital Rights (EDRi) stresses that international and European human rights law must be respected. Under human rights law, restrictions to our rights to privacy or freedom of expression need to be provided for by law and be necessary and proportionate. The European Commission’s short-cut, where it puts the focus on “voluntary” measures by internet companies, bypasses democratic accountability.

Today’s Recommendation is part of a worrisome trend. The European Commission has focused heavily on using the “threat” of legislation to force internet companies into more “voluntary” policing activities. These measures include:

EDRi had given advice to the Commission previously on developing a targeted, effective and data-driven approach to fighting illegal content online.

We have prepared a Q&A for journalists and the general public about what today’s Recommendation is really about.

Read more:

LEAK: European Commission’s reckless draft Recommendation on “illegal” content (13.20.2018)

Commission’s position on tackling illegal content online is contradictory and dangerous for free speech (28.09.2018)

European Commission Workshop on Fundamental Rights and Digital Platforms – EDRi’s initial comments (12.06.2017)

EDRi’s letter to the European Commission on a coherent, rights-based approach to illegal content online (28.19.2017)