Sign up EDRi Statement on CoE Recommendation – Campaign update

By EDRi · October 24, 2007

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31 international and national organisations from different countries have
already signed EDRI statement on a new Recommendation from the
Council of Europe (CoE) failing to uphold freedom of expression in
the online environment.

As other related instruments are currently in preparation by the CoE,
EDRI calls for NGOs and groups from all over the world to sign up in
support of EDRI statement and take further action to help avoid the
risk of more damages to freedom of expression and information in the
online world. Signatures should preferably be gathered before 28 October
2007, as the next meeting of the CoE expert group having prepared
this Recommendation is scheduled on 29-30 October 2007 in Strasbourg
and will be attended as an observer by EDRI representative.

In this statement, EDRI expresses its serious concerns over this
Recommendation that promotes opaque “self-regulation” and other soft
law instruments driven by private interests and implemented through
technical mechanisms. EDRI is deeply concerned that such instruments
will be used to legitimize subtle means of censorship, through
privatised censorship and measures to protect against so-called
harmful content.

As the OpenNet Initiative reports through its Internet filtering
study, and as numerous filtering cases reported in EDRI newsletter
have shown, technical mechanisms are used to remove local content or
block access to it when hosted on foreign websites to censor political and
social content found objectionable by some. Even when the content is
allegedly illegal, filtering is seldom, if at all, operated following a
legal order, leading to serious breaches of the rule of law.

In addition to freedom of expression, privacy and access to
information and knowledge are other fundamental rights at stake when
technical filtering mechanisms are promoted and used. Given the lack
of transparency of the filtering tools, no one knows what happens to
the personal data of persons tentatively accessing blocked content.
Finally, such filters are more and more used on content-sharing
platforms, while they are still showing many design failures,
including some leading to massive over-blocking of legal and
legitimate content.

EDRI considers thus this Recommendation to be damaging and a
retrograde step for freedom of expression and freedom of the press in
the online world, as well as for other fundamental rights and for the
rule of law principle.

First signatories, EDRI statement and background information in 7

OpenNet Initiative

Selection of filtering cases reports in EDRI-gram