Brussels, 10/12/2020 – Today, the final trilogue negotiations on the TERREG regulation concluded. The results are a major threat to fundamental rights in the EU with only a partial success for digital rights defenders: journalism, arts and sciences are protected from the dangerous proposal that aims at stopping the dissemination of terrorist content online by deleting it. Nevertheless, it will have catastrophic effects and provide unprecedented power to authoritarian Member State governments.
Even after a mitigation by the Parliament, TERREG remains a vastly dangerous regulation as it gives national authorities in the EU the right to delete alleged terrorist related content published in other member states, without approval by courts. It has been criticized by numerous NGO’s as well as UN Special Rapporteurs, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).
“The possibility to delete content by a competent authority of any Member State is a major blow to fundamental rights. With this mechanism, Viktor Orbán could delete legitimate content in the Czech republic or Germany. For instance, legitimate criticism of the Hungarian government could be deleted across Europe by marking such criticism as terrorism,” warns Marcel Kolaja, Pirate MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament.
Pirates helped implement important exemptions
Pirate MEP Patrick Breyer agrees. The shadow rapporteur for the Greens/EFA group has fought to control damage resulting from the dangerous regulation: “After hard work and protests from civil society, we were able to achieve important partial successes: We have prevented an obligation on platforms to deploy error-prone upload filters. Journalism, arts and sciences are protected now. We have also implemented an exemption from to the 1-hour deletion deadline for small and non-commercial platforms.”
Nevertheless, without effective safeguards, the regulation will result in an excessive suppression of content. Ultimately, courts are likely to overturn TERREG. “I worked hard to ensure compliance with fundamental rights. (…) But a regulation, which is not able to withstand court challenges is the most ineffective instrument of all to stop the dissemination of terrorist content online,” concludes Breyer.
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