Web blocking discussions in European Parliament reach critical stage

By EDRi · January 12, 2011

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Deutsch: [Internetsperren: Diskussion im EP erreicht ihre entscheidende Phase |]

The European Parliament is currently at a crucial stage in the discussions
on the European Commission’s proposals on web blocking. The MEP
in charge, Roberta Angelilli, has presented her draft report, other
parliamentarians have until 20 January to propose other amendments and an
“orientation vote” which will informally set Parliament policy on issues of
general agreement will take place on 3 February.

Despite the fact that the original proposal was made by the Commission in
March 2009, the level of debate has not developed to any great extent after
almost two years of discussion. The fact that the Commission failed to
provide any evidence from countries that already block websites has not had
any positive impact whatsoever. The fact that blocking is increasingly
irrelevant due to the use of P2P and hacked servers instead of static
“blockable” websites or the fact that blocking will give criminals immediate
warning that they have been detected are of no particular importance in the
debate. Indeed, even the actual purpose of blocking – accidental access,
deliberate access or something else – is not an issue which has been
discussed in any detail.

Nonetheless, in the debate held in the Civil Liberties Committee on 10
January 2011, eleven of the twelve parliamentarians who spoke were opposed
to the introduction of mandatory EU-wide blocking, German conservative MEP
Axel Voss being the sole exception. Roberta Angelilli’s position is somewhat
unclear – in the legally binding articles of her report, she suggests making
blocking optional. However, in the explanatory “recitals”, she suggests that
mechanisms “be put in place to block access from the Union’s territory to
internet pages identified as containing or disseminating child pornography”
and promotes the concept that Internet access providers should take on the
role of extra-judicial censors.

With regard to extra-judicial blocking, the Commission supports this
approach, despite having stated in an impact assessment in 2007 that “the
adoption of blocking measures necessarily implies a restriction of human
rights, in particular the freedom of expression and therefore, it can only
be imposed by law”.

The blocking proposal has even led the European Commission to enter the
public affairs market. On 12 January, they cooperated with the Child
Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP – affiliated to the UK
police Serious Organised Crime Agency) to transport parliamentarians to
London for a day of pro-blocking lobbying.

EDRi campaign page (10.01.2011)

Draft parliament report on the proposal for a directive of the European
Parliament and of the Council on combating sexual abuse, sexual exploitation
of children and child pornography, repealing Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA

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

Impact Assessment – Proposal for a Council Framework Decision amending
Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism (6.11.2007)

(contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)