Freedom Online: Stop the Double-Speak!

Paris, December 9th, 2011 – The Netherlands are convening a high-profile conference to discuss freedoms online. As the United States and Europe pose as defenders of freedom online, La Quadrature recalls that their Internet policy is going in the other direction by supporting censorship, through the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) and other initiatives.

“Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Kroes pretend to ignore that freedoms online are at threat everywhere in the world, not only in authoritarian regimes but also in democracies like India, EU countries or the US. While in her speech US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoted a borderless Internet, she also stressed that copyright infringements are tantamount to cybercrime, using the same abusive rhetoric as proponents of the censorship schemes currently discussed in the US Congress1. Whether through the ACTA agreement2, the G8 conclusions3, or the EU copyright strategy4, many initiatives seek to hand out police and justice missions to Internet companies and the automated machines they program. The impact on freedom of expression online is huge, and the potential for abuse inevitable.” said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

“Commissioner Neelie Kroes's call on the surveillance and censorship industry to commit to fundamental rights through ‘self-regulation’ cannot succeed in alleviating the export of these technologies, which are developed with the help of Western governments themselves5. Moving beyond double speak, our governments need to go from words to deeds by rejecting ACTA and other censorship schemes and preserving the Internet's universality through legal protection of Net neutrality. We want acts to protect citizens freedoms instead of encouraging automated privatized online censorship under the disguise of ’self-regulation’.” concluded Zimmermann.