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La Quadrature du Net asks for renewed support to challenge TERREG in France

In light of the European Parliament's vote on the Regulation to prevent the dissemination of said “terrorist content”, EDRi observer La Quadrature du Net (LQDN) sheds light on some of the most concerning provisions which have to be addressed before the final adoption of the regulation.

By La Quadrature du Net (LQDN) (guest author) · January 27, 2021

Designed by: LQDN

On January 11, the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament voted on the Regulation to prevent the dissemination of said “terrorist content”. This is the last step before the final adoption of the regulation in the plenary of the Parliament, perhaps as early as April this year.

A deafening silence

The text provides that any authority of a Member State of the European Union can oblige any hosting provider to remove content within one hour that this authority considers of “terrorist nature”. Concretely, in France, the police will be allowed to censor in one hour any text or video without the prior authorisation of a judge.

In addition to the dangers of surveillance and political censorship that LQDN has pointed out for years, one-hour removal orders are exactly what was struck down by the Constitutional Council in June 2020 in its decision on the Avia law.

However, the vote in the LIBE Committee last week was followed by a deafening silence. From the side of the press, the latest news available is a press release from the AFP (the French News Agency) following the compromise found between the Parliament and the European Member States on the text. In the Press Release the French government congratulates itself on this agreement, without any mention of the extremely lively debate that the replica of this text in the Avia law had triggered, nor of the decision of the Constitutional Council of June 2020.

Apart from this poor and partial press release… there is nothing. The deletion of Donald Trump’s Twitter account was obviously a lighter and more pleasant subject to discuss than the censorship of thousands of European activists that is feared to happen as soon as the whole internet will be subjected to the arbitrariness of all European police forces.

On the other hand, the French government is happy with this situation. Whether it is Clément Beaune, the Secretary of State for European Affairs, who speaks without embarrassment of a “major advance, supported by France”. Or Emmanuel Macron, who is pleased with the outcome of a process he initiated in 2017. It’s also impossible not to mention the French Members of the European Parliament who boasted about the text adoption, such as Nathalie Loiseau and Fabienne Keller. It appears as if the entire government apparatus is blissfully unaware that they are instrumentalising the European Union to bypass the French Constitution and violate our freedoms head-on.

A referral to prepare the final vote

LQDN has therefore decided to refer the matter to the Defender of Rights. She is indeed responsible to ensure “the respect of rights and freedoms by the State administrations”. Yet, the French government, and particularly the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, has actively participated in advancing the adoption of provisions that have been declared as violating the Constitution in June 2020.

LQDN also hopes that, in face of this media silence and unconstitutional abuses by the government, all the organisations and journalists who mobilised against the dangers of the Avia law will do the same on this issue.

(Contribution by Martin Drago, La Quadrature du Net and translated by Chloé Berthélémy, EDRi)

  • Read the article in French here