DIGITAL SOCIETY CRITICS EU DIRECTIVE ON PREVENTING THE DISTRIBUTION OF BAD ONLINE CONTENT IN AN OPEN LETTER

The European Parliament is currently negotiating a draft Commission regulation to prevent the spread of online terrorist content. The draft contains considerable restrictions on freedom of expression, information and occupation as well as great risks of abuse. The net political organization Digital Society e.V. sees therein a massive danger for the opinion landscape in the InterNet. Three UN special commissioners also warn against significant interference in human rights.

According to the draft, contents classified as terrorist are to be deleted by official order within one hour – in the event of non-compliance, substantial fines are threatened.

These obligations affect all Internet service providers who store user information in order to make it available to third parties. The sprawling scope would be the end of many smaller providers and non-profit services. It includes not only publicly available content, but also those that are shared only in a small group. Particularly problematic is that the definition of terrorist content in its current form includes journalistic activities and manifestations of civil disobedience.

Elisabeth Niekrenz, political officer of the Digital Society, explains: “In addition to the erasure orders, the draft provides further tools for the national authorities: platform operators may be required to use upload filters to check content before publication using algorithms to see if they contain terrorist content and if necessary withhold. In addition, there is a possibility for public authorities to report content to providers to check against their terms of service. The legal protection of content providers against deletions in these cases is greatly shortened by a postponement of the decision to the private hosting providers. “

Together with the Chaos Computer Club, the Society for Computer Science, the Aktion Freiheit statt Angst, the Forum Computer Scientists for Peace and Social Responsibility, Digitalcourage and Wikimedia Germany, the Digitale Gesellschaft eV has written an open letter to the German members of the Committee on Civil Liberties Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and invited them to reject the draft.