Letter to MEPs of LIBE Committee: Do Not Jeopardize Our Freedom of Speech!

Paris, 19 October 2015 – On Monday afternoon, members of the European Parliament's LIBE Committee will vote on the Dati report on the “prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations”. This report contains dangerous provisions, which aim to make online platforms and hosts responsible for the distribution of messages glorifying terrorism, creating a high risk of pre-emptive censorship. Such provisions severely threaten European citizens' freedom of speech.

Dear MEP,

Monday, as part of the LIBE Committee, you will vote on the Dati report on the “prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations”. This report contains, among other things, a chapter on the prevention of radicalisation on the Internet. This chapter's provisions are extremely dangerous for many of our fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.

This report seeks to amplify the trend to give hosts and platforms judicial power by forcing them to define themselves the legality of the content they host. Furthermore, it attempts to force them to cooperate with administrative police decisions – which circumvent the judicial power – to delete content deemed illegal by the Police or the Government.

Such provisions seriously undermine the principle of the separation of powers, a cornerstone of our democratic societies. The judicial power must not be cast aside in favour of the executive. The power to censor must not be handed over to private companies, under the pretext that such companies are the means of expression mainly used by Internet users. To delegate the regulation of recruitment messages to administrative decisions and the preventive regulation to private platforms is to leave the door wide-open to pre-emptive censorship of content and therefore, to grave and repeated violations of freedom of expression and the right to information.

What is now at stake is the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms that make up Europe's strength: giving in to the temptation of censorship, public or private (ie: by platforms and web hosting services), is to weaken the building blocks of our democracies.

You showed last Tuesday, by voting in favour of the Moraes report on electronic mass surveillance, that you intend to support the right to privacy, to freedom of expression and to freedom of opinion. Don't let this disastrous report for fundamental rights in Europe undermine the good work that you have done.

Vote against this report! Don’t give in to the harmful pressure put on you. An effective battle against terrorism should not and can not be carried out at the cost of destroying our democracies. The only viable option to guarantee all of our fundamental rights is to start this debate over on a sound basis, and as such to vote against this report.

We thank you in advance for your commitment to the liberties of the European citizens you represent.

Yours faithfully,

La Quadrature du Net