ENDitorial: Malmström seeks to distance from blocking as criticism grows

By EDRi · May 19, 2010

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Deutsch: [ENDitorial: Nach wachsender Kritik versucht sich Malmström von Neztsperren zu distanzieren | http://www.unwatched.org/node/1939]

Over the last two weeks, Commissioner Malmström has made several determined
efforts to distance herself from Internet blocking and related policies
supported by her and her services.

In June of last year, DG Justice, Freedom and Security (which is now under
Commissioner Malmström’s responsibility) proposed Internet blocking as well
as revoking of IP addresses and domain names. When the same policies were
copied and pasted into a Council of Ministers document recently,
Commissioner Malmström used her blog to present this as proof that that
these proposals were not hers and, oddly, that it is too early for the
Commission to fully understand what the Council meant when it put forward
these ideas.

The Commissioner also tried to argue in a recent meeting of the Civil
Liberties Committee meeting that blocking, which was launched by her
services under her leadership, is not just her policy, but that of the
Commission as a whole (which is, of course, true, due to the “collegial”
nature of the institution). In order to encourage this impression she has
been trying to persuade her Liberal colleague Neelie Kroes to add blocking
to the Digital Agenda, even though it was not mentioned in any version up
until shortly before publication. In the end, Commissioner Kroes chose not
to include unequivocal support for blocking in the document – although
probably because it would have been incongruous rather than due to any lack
of support for her colleague.

One of the reasons for Commissioner Malmström’s desire to distance herself
from this measure may be the European Data Protection Supervisor’s (EDPS)
recent Opinion on the proposal. While being critical of the measure in
general, as well as its possible implications, the EDPS made a point of
condemning the lawless, privatised restrictions on freedom of communication
that have been publicly supported by the Commissioner. In a criticism that
goes far beyond Internet blocking and which has major implications for the
“self-regulatory” approaches proposed by the Commission, which aim to push
Internet Service Providers into proactive Internet police, he stressed “that
a code of conduct or voluntary guidelines would not bring enough legal

While Commissioner Malmström is focusing on the symptom (websites containing
illegal material), Commissioner Reding (who has responsibility for child
rights) has taken the initiative to launch a dialogue with the United States
authorities to ensure that the worst child abuse material is taken offline
as soon as possible. Following the crackdown on such material in Russia
after pressure from the EU, positive cooperation with the United States
would be a major step forward in dealing with web-based abuse material.

In the European Parliament, this week will see the first meeting of the MEP
responsible for the blocking dossier (Roberta Angelilli, EPP, Italy)(the
“rapporteur”, in Eurospeak) with the MEPs responsible for the dossier from
each of the other political groups (“shadow rapporteurs”). The nature of
these discussions will set the scene for the ultimate compromises that will
be achieved by the Parliament when adopting the legislation.

Commissioner’s blog (Swedish)

Håll ordning på anklagelserna

Commissioner’s blog (machine translation – English)

Commission’s June 2009 proposal

Council Conclusions:

EDPS Opinion on the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and
of the Council on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of
children and child pornography, repealing Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA

US, EU against Internet child porn (10.04.2010)

(Contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)