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Free Expression

Letter to Members of the European Parliament on Concerns with Terrorism Hash Database

(Updated 8 February 2019 to reflect additional signers)

Today the Center for Democracy & Technology joined dozens of other civil society organizations around the globe in writing to members of the European Parliament to express our profound concerns about the use of the terrorism hash database. The database was announced by several major internet platforms a few years ago and it, along with similar tools, poses serious threats to free expression. In response to the proposed EU Terrorism Regulation, a number of civil society and advocacy organizations have joined together to let EU lawmakers know about the harms associated with use of the database. Among our concerns are:

  • The lack of transparency around the database, including its operations, effectiveness and error rates, and internal processes for those companies using the database.
  • The shortcomings of technical filters, in particular their inability to understand context.
  • The disproportionate impact of filters and pervasive online monitoring on disadvantaged and marginalized individuals.

The letter was sent to the following MEPs: Lucy Anderson, Daniel Dalton, Rachida Dati, Eva Joly, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Emma McClarkin, Eva Maydell, Martina Michels, Julia Reda, Maite Pagazaurtundua Ruiz, Jasenko Selimovic, Yana Toom, Josef Weidenholzer, and Julie Ward.

The decisions of this group of EU lawmakers will have global consequences, impacting digital rights and shaping the internet for years to come. We urge members of the European Parliament to reject proactive filtering obligations; provide sound, peer-reviewed research data supporting policy recommendations and legal mandates around counter-terrorism; and refrain from enacting laws that will drive internet platforms to adopt untested and poorly understood technologies to restrict online expression.