EU Chief wants to block 'undesirable' content on the web

europe flagYesterday the new European Union anti-terror chief appeared infront of MPs to discuss various issues, including what people are reading online.

As we’ve previously warned, the UK’s Anti-Extremism task force has already alluded to greater filtering of web content and now the EU has taken it one step further, with Gilles de Kerchove telling MPs he wanted to remove “not illegal, undesirable websites.”

Setting out the action being taken by the EU he said: “The Commissioner for Home Affairs will set up a forum to discuss with the big players – Google, Facebook, Twitter – how we can improve the way one removes from the internet the illegal and if not illegal, undesirable websites.”

Freedom of speech, and of the press, are essential parts of a free and democratic society. It should not be in the gift of politicians to decide what we read or who can write it and absolutely not on the basis of what some may consider undesirable. If content is to be blocked, it should be a decision taken by a court of law and only when a clear criminal test has been met establishing the content is illegal.

The mind boggles at what a European official might consider undesirable – perhaps our criticisms of the European Arrest Warrant has caught Mr de Kerchove’s attention.

Given one EU report last year discussed how “Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status. The national media councils should follow a set of European‐wide standards and be monitored by the Commission to ensure that they comply with European values”  it is clear the threats to freedom of speech and to a free press are not just a domestic issue.

You can download our policy briefing on blocking extremist websites here.

 

 

17 Comments

  1. Jonathan Dickson
    29th January 2014

    Does this mean the eu will never be mentioned on the web ever again? Great!

    Reply
  2. john timbrell
    30th January 2014

    See avaz petition re proposal to give companies preferential access to the internet. Human nature being what it is someone will manipulate preferential access to control other people ie the world.

    Reply
  3. john timbrell
    30th January 2014

    So my comment is being moderated. I would prefer that you give it to your management who almost certainly will want to know of this

    Reply
  4. Biffo
    30th January 2014

    May I suggest that the EU chief in question FRO & minds his own business? I don’t need some smarmy EU creep deciding what websites I can visit.

    Reply
  5. Albert
    30th January 2014

    The jackboots march on.

    Reply
  6. Alex
    30th January 2014

    And a more balanced report from the Irish Independent…

    “Social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook play a crucial role in recruiting foreign fighters to travel to Syria, the European Union’s anti-terror chief has warned.

    Gilles de Kerchove told MPs that online messages, many posted by “narcissistic” youths posing with AK-47 rifles, had contributed to an acceleration in the number of Europeans, including Britons, travelling to Syria to fight – with many falling in with extremist groups.

    He said talks had begun with internet giants to find ways to remove illegal and “undesirable” websites, photos and videos encouraging would-be jihadists.

    Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee – which heard that up to 11,000 foreign fighters are in Syria – the EU’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator said one of the reasons was that it was “so easy” for Europeans to get to compared to other conflict zones.

    Syria’s environment was another factor, he said: “Many of the would-be jihadists are urban people. The environment is more similar in Syria than it is in the desert.”

    But he added the “internet, social media – Facebook, Twitter – plays a huge role in this acceleration”.

    He said: “A lot of these young jihadists are narcissists. They want to be portrayed with a Kalashnikov, they put themselves, their pictures, onYouTube, on Facebook. They try to encourage colleagues, friends to join.”

    He said the internet was a “critical recruiting factor” and the social media sites “play a significant role in indoctrination, recruitment, radicalisation”.

    Mr de Kerchove also said satellite TV allowed viewers to watch channels where “you have preachers calling for violent jihad”.

    Setting out the action being taken by the EU he said: “The Commissioner for Home Affairs will set up a forum to discuss with the big players – Google, Facebook, Twitter – how we can improve the way one removes from the internet the illegal and if not illegal, undesirable websites.

    “But it is very sensitive because it raises the question of the balance with freedom of speech. So how can we improve referral mechanisms by which the users themselves let Google know that they find some unacceptable websites and videos and pictures on the internet?

    “This is a discussion that we have started with these big companies.””

    Quite disgusted with how ridiculously over simplified and dumbed down coverage of anything EU based has got in the UK.

    Reply
  7. henry chalder
    30th January 2014

    This EU is getting like the old Soviet Union, this is not what we voted for. I think its time to leave

    Reply
  8. European Values’: Hold the Free Speech | Juno News
    30th January 2014

    […] From Big Brother Watch: […]

    Reply
  9. Chris
    30th January 2014

    Five or six years ago, anyone who even dared suggest in a blog or forum that the EU was a threat to freedom and liberty would have been laughed at. Times were good, the money was flowing….no-one cared. How all that has changed; thank goodness. People are waking up.
    I imagine “blocked sites” would be all the alternative news and similar truth sites, also the websites of “undesirable” political parties.
    British internet could soon be accessed only by a pay-to-view portal, leading to carefully selected and approved websites….just like China. A lot of people were warning of this move years back, but it was laughed off. Well, it aint funny now.

    Reply
  10. Dave H
    30th January 2014

    WTF?

    Personally I find the whole EU propaganda machine undesirable, so can we start by banning that. Perhaps then they’ll understand why it’s a bad idea.

    Reply
  11. Philip Lishman
    31st January 2014

    ‘National media councils': First I’m hearing of it. That’s the Leveson stitchup of the press explained then.

    Reply
  12. Barry Davies
    31st January 2014

    It just goes to show how stupid the Eussr anti terrorist Chief is, does he really think that people would use Facebook google or twitter to exchange information, there are far more hidden communication sites around that those three would not be allied with that are a more likely avenue for this sort of activity, but then we are all to well aware of the noise that comes out of the eussr to try to pretend they are needed.

    Reply
  13. Nospin_43
    4th February 2014

    Alex JANUARY 30, 2014
    “And a more balanced report from the Irish Independent…”

    Problem is look how Blair & Brown’s govs misused anti terror laws, this lo has been no better.

    yeswe need to stop terrorists utilisinf social media but not affect our freedom of speech.

    Reply
  14. Harry
    4th February 2014

    My google+ account has been intercepted and I cannot use it. All after I posted some information about Fracking and various local Fracking sites near me… 20 mins later account seized.

    WE ARE BEING WATCHED

    Reply
  15. Mr. Topp and the Big Bad Blog | The money and the mouth
    4th February 2014

    […] Of course, blocking pornography from children (even if only in theory) is one thing – one of the many arguments that oppose this approach is that it’s a slippery slope. And there are signs that no time has been wasted, and we appear to be on our way towards slipping already. […]

    Reply

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