The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) Europe joined over 60 other human rights and journalist organisations in signing a letter to the Members of the European Parliament, urging them to vote against adopting the proposed Terrorist Content Online Regulation in the April 2021 plenary sitting. Since the draft legislation was published in 2018, we, the undersigned civil society organisations, journalists associations and researchers, have warned against the serious threats to fundamental rights and freedoms in the proposal, especially for freedom of expression and opinion, freedom to access information, the right to privacy, and the rule of law.
Thanks to the work of the European Parliament’s negotiations team, an extended debate and the involvement of civil society, a number of problematic issues of the proposal have been addressed during the trilogue negotiations. However, despite the outcome of the negotiations, the final text of the proposal still contains dangerous measures that will ultimately weaken the protection of fundamental rights and the rule of law in the EU. The text has also come under fire from a group of UN Special Rapporteurs on account of its non-compliance with international human rights law. It also has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for online content regulation worldwide, and in particular would undermine EU foreign policy efforts to protect human rights defenders.
The letter stresses three key remaining issues in the draft law that cannot reconcile with upholding fundamental rights online. The proposal:
(1) incentivises online platforms to use automated content moderation tools, such as upload filters;
(2) severely lacks independent judicial oversight over the issuance of removal orders;
(3) would permit EU Member States to issue cross-border removal orders without any checks.