Negotiations end in confused text on Internet blocking

By EDRi · June 29, 2011

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Verhandlungen münden in verworrenen Text über Netzsperren |]

After months of negotiation, the Council, Parliament and Commission finally
agreed a text on Internet blocking where everyone appears to have got what
they wanted, except the European Commission. The agreed text now needs to be
signed off by the political groups, before being put to a vote in the Civil
Liberties Committee on 12-13 July 2011. A full vote of the European
Parliament’s plenary in September will definitively end the process in that

The provisional text removes the proposed obligation on EU Member States to
introduce web blocking and also removes the wording which proposed
encouragement and “stimulation” (sic) of Internet providers to introduce
blocking outside the rule of law.

The explanatory “recital” that is meant to provide clarification of the
meaning of the main article is entirely schizophrenic. For those who wish to
ignore the European Charter and European Convention on Human Rights, the
explanation says that these provisions “are without prejudice to
(unspecified) voluntary action taken by the internet industry.”
Neither”voluntary” or indeed what “action” is referred to is explained.

For those who wish to see provisions of Article 52 of the Charter and
Articles 8 and 10 of the Convention respected, particularly with regard to
the need for restrictions to be based on law, the text explains that “Member
States should ensure that it provides an adequate level of legal security
and predictability to users and service providers.” This wording echoes
rulings from the European Court of Human Rights interpreting the concept of
“in accordance with the law” in various existing rulings.

The final compromise text allows blocking, doesn’t require blocking, allows
“voluntary” actions but does not explain what this might be, prohibits
voluntary blocking, but possibly not in an enforceable way and suggests
Member States should take action to remove the material at source, but uses
wording so weak that it is practically unenforceable.

The European Commission’s Communication “Towards an EU Strategy on the
Rights of the Child” adopted in 2006 established a set of specific
objectives for the Union. – item 6 was “communicating more effectively on
children’s rights”. It is to be hoped that the chaotic mess that was adopted
does not effectively communicate the coherence, quality and priorities of
the European Union in this policy area.

EU Child Rights Communication

EDRi’s blocking booklet

Compromise text and analysis

Proposal for a Directive on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation
of children and child pornography, repealing Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA

Impact assessment (25.03.2009)

Commissioner Malmström’s blog (in Swedish and English) on this issue

Ett slag för barnens rättigheter

MOGiS (abuse survivors against internet blocking): Remove, don’t block! –
Act, and don’t look away!

(Contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)