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Responses to Charlie Hebdo Attack: Governments Should Protect, Not Limit, Free Expression

The horrific terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris has shaken the European continent profoundly. The tragedy lays bare controversial and divisive questions regarding free expression and efforts to prevent terrorism and violence motivated by political and religious extremism. European leaders have been quick to announce heightened security responses. However, caution is needed to ensure that any new security measures are proportionate, that they strengthen and advance the free expression rights of all, and that they avoid creating a chilling effect from surveillance.

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Ministers Should Not Confuse Platform Neutrality with Net Neutrality

Ministers from France and Germany wrote to European Commission Vice President Ansip, who is in charge of Digital Single Market, calling for the Commission to prepare legislation for “essential platforms.” We encourage Ministers in EU Member States to distinguish between net neutrality and platform neutrality, and to maintain their focus on the adoption of a regulation with strong protections for the open Internet.

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Law Enforcement Without Borders

A critical case is now working its way through the US courts—one that raises important questions for users and providers of cloud services in both the US and Europe. As part of a US criminal investigation, a US federal court has ordered Microsoft to hand over a customer’s files that the company holds in its Ireland data centre. CDT believes that in the law enforcement context, the best way to accommodate the interests of both governments is through the process established under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs).

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What will it take to end mass surveillance in the EU?

When the media reports containing startling revelations about the scale and scope of electronic surveillance conducted by the US National Security Agency (NSA) appeared in June 2013, Europe’s response was mixed. It quickly became clear that while European officials and Members of the European Parliament took the revelations and their impact on fundamental rights very seriously, no such response was forthcoming from national governments.

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European Parliament Net Neutrality Proposal Moving Forward

Officials and politicians have wrestled for several years with the question of net neutrality: should Europe lay down in law a basic principle of non-discrimination of traffic on the internet, or would – as European telecoms operators have argued for years – such measures burden Europe’s telecoms industry with new unwelcome regulation? This month, the European Parliament’s Industry Committee is set to vote on an important and controversial piece of legislation which will introduce an EU-wide net neutrality rule for the first time ever. The Committee’s vote precedes final adoption by the Parliament in April. Next, EU Member States will review and amend the proposal, meaning that the legislative process has a long way to go.

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EU Copyright Reform: Europe Needs Flexible Rules that Enable Innovation

We highlight the need for a copyright system that enables innovation in web-based services and new ways for users and consumers to engage with copyrighted content – while enabling content creators to be fairly compensated. This requires a flexible approach to limitations and exceptions to copyright. Flexibility facilitates criticism, teaching and creative re-uses of works, but it does more than that. It is crucial to technological innovation and the success of new Internet services across Europe.

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International Data Protection Day: Reding hits the right notes on EU data protection and surveillance

Yesterday, on Data Protection Day, European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding took the opportunity to deliver a keynote speech in Brussels setting out a set of priorities to govern European data protection policy going forward. I was pleased to represent CDT on the panel following her remarks, alongside Claude Moraes, the Member of Parliament responsible for the Civil Liberties Committee’s electronic surveillance inquiry, and Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor.

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Transparency: the first step towards government surveillance reform – in the US, Europe and beyond

The drama surrounding the Snowden revelations helped shine light on a fundamental challenge for both companies and citizens: governments worldwide are accessing more and more personal data through the private sector. Counter-terrorism and national security is an important part of this picture, but it goes broader than that. Governments access, collect and store data for law enforcement, social security, health care, transportation, and lots of administrative purposes – and they do so on a larger and larger scale. Increasingly, authorities’ access to this data is automated, or systematic, indiscriminate, and often requires no human involvement. The laws that authorize access are opaque or secret, national parliaments conduct limited oversight, and judicial review is often lacking.

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Time for a Trans-Atlantic Partnership on Human Rights and Surveillance

On Tuesday, I, along with my colleague Greg Nojeim, had the opportunity to testify before the European Parliament on behalf of CDT’s President Leslie Harris. CDT was invited to testify in front of the LIBE Committee as part of its inquiry on electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens. We shared information about privacy gaps in U.S. security laws, as well as our call for reform in the U.S. Our focus, however, was on the obligation of the U.S. and EU to work together to find a global solution.

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