By EDRi · March 1, 2011

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Parliament text:

Summary of Parliament Compromise on Blocking

On 14 February, the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament adopted a compromise text in response to the European Commission’s proposal on Internet blocking (Article 21 and Recital 13). Under the leadership of rapporteur Roberta Angelilli (EPP, Italy), the Parliament voted for a text which moved the focus away from technically inefficient measures and towards concrete tools to fight crimes against children.

The Text that follows whichever introduction is used:
The adopted text harmonises the approach to existing European Union and European Convention on Human Rights obligations with regard to restrictions on communication. This will enable more coherent, predictable and proportionate approaches in the future on a European level.

Focus on addressing the crimes against children:

The Parliament’s amendments to Article 21 and Recital 13 prioritise concrete measures aimed at addressing the existence of the illegal content on websites, investigating the actual crimes and the criminals committing them, as well as rescuing the victims.
It does this specifically by placing the emphasis on:

Removal at source: This measure addresses the existence of illegal material, avoiding all risks of re-victimisation, while allowing Internet providers to keep records of content to facilitate criminal investigation and victim identification;

International cooperation: It is particularly important to remove the systemic problems in communication and cooperation with third countries’ authorities that lead to illegal content in websites hosted abroad not being dealt with expeditiously. This cooperation could include, for example, the setting up of single points of contact for competent authorities abroad;

Annual reporting on removal activities: This will help identify individual successes and failures of Member States at a national and international level, to disseminate best practices and ensure maximum efforts to prosecute criminals and identify victims.

Harmonised respect for existing European legal obligations

The Parliament’s text will serve to clarify and harmonise the EU’s approach to existing legal obligations on restrictions to communications. In particular:

The least restrictive alternative is prioritised, namely, the deletion of websites. Only when this is impossible can a more restrictive method (such as blocking) be considered.

In line with the European Convention on Human Rights, alternative measures to removal at source (such as blocking) must be “necessary” (ie, the measure must be effective and no other measure can be reasonably available taking into account technical and economic feasibility).

Respecting existing case law of the European Court of Human Rights, restrictions must be imposed in a predictable (according to law), transparent (ie, the measure should be based on relevant factors or sufficient evidence) and proportionate (ie, the negative effects of a measure should be counter-balanced by its benefits in terms of a legitimate public policy objective) manner.