Today, in the European Parliament, Members vote on a “Resolution on Eliminating Gender Stereotypes in the EU”. The ‘own initiative report’, drafted by Dutch Socialist MEP Kartika Tamara Liotard, has caught the attention of media and commentators, and has been receiving harsh and well-deserved criticism from many quarters.
Several news reports refer to an imminent ‘EU ban on pornography’. This is not accurate. A European Parliament resolution has no legal or legislative force. It is simply a political statement and a general call for action. While the European Parliament issues many such resolutions every year, urging the European Commission and Member States to take legislative action on a wide range of issues, most of these efforts go nowhere.
But though there’s no imminent legislative threat from this Resolution on Eliminating Gender Stereotypes in the EU, it still raises cause for concern. The Resolution includes recommendations specific to the Internet and media that, while unlikely to ever be realistically considered, reflect thoroughly misguided, yet widespread, notions about limitations on freedom of speech, and obligations of intermediaries to monitor, control, and filter content on the Internet.
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