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European Policy, Free Expression

“Duty of care” for platforms could shake Internet freedoms

The Digital Post: 

European Commission’s alleged plans to impose monitoring obligations (“duty of care”) on online platforms would undermine the Internet as a platform open to posting and sharing content, argues Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, Representative and Director for European Affairs at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT).

The Digital Post: The European Commission’s consultation on the role of online platforms hints at expanding the liability of intermediaries as regards illegal content hosted online. What exactly the Commission has in mind?

Jens-Henrik Jeppesen: We do not know exactly what the Commission has in mind. In its various recent policy statements the Commission has only hinted at the prospect of changing the current rules.

This is the case, both in the Digital Single Market Communication from May 2015, the DSM Platforms Consultation that has just finished (see CDT response here) and in the 9 December Copyright Communication.

In the latter document, the Commission says that it will consider options for amending the IP Enforcement Directive. It also notes that the platforms consultation raises the option of ’take down and stay down’.

Effectively this can only mean introduction of a general monitoring obligation on intermediaries, which is not allowed under the E-Commerce Directive. We want to preserve this protection.

TDP: What might be the general implications of these obligations, were it introduced?

JHJ: As we explain in various of our statements and documents, a monitoring obligation if it were to be introduced, would require intermediaries of all kinds to police, screen and filter for content that might be argued by some to be illegal.

Full article here.