Defend Freedom of Speech: Say No to the European Commission and Facebook Pledge to Censor Online Discussion

Defend Free Speech Against EU Censorship

 

Defend Freedom of Speech: Say No to the European Commission and Facebook Pledge to Censor Online Discussion

Defend Freedom of Speech: Say No to the European Commission and Facebook Pledge to Censor Online Discussion

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The European Commission (the executive branch of the EU) reached an agreement on the 31st May with some of the world’s biggest social media firms including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube on how to tackle “illegal online hate speech”.

The European Commission unveiled a code of conduct that will ensure “online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally”. Upon receiving a ‘valid removal notification’, IT companies will have to remove or disable access to the content in less than 24 hours.

The Commission and the IT companies came to this decision without public consultation and without consultation with democratically elected leaders.

So what does tackling “illegal online hate speech” involve? According to EU law, illegal hate speech means all conduct “publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.”

This is so vague as to mean almost anything. Take two examples:

1. a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights document defined hate speech to include a “broader spectrum of verbal acts”, including “disrespectful public discourse”.
2. The IGLYO (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth and Student Organisation) produced an EU-funded manual on online hate speech in which we are told “the vast majority of hate speech is being perpetrated by regular people, not by extremists or radicals”.

Ostensibly this “Code of Conduct” exists to tackle terrorism, as mentioned in the press release, but it is clear that will go far beyond this. Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality and the person responsible for this code, has confirmed this elsewhere. In 2015 she said that “‘a narrative undermining LGBTI rights is quietly spreading, often disguised as so-called religious principles. This is unacceptable… It is clear that we must fight all hate speech, online and offline, whatever group of society it targets. We will work with internet providers to ensure hate speech is taken off the web as soon as it is reported.’

“so-called religious principles” and terrorism are, in the author of this code’s opinion, both forms of hate speech which need to be censored on the internet.

Certain corners of the press are already arguing that “hate speech” should cover gender and sexual orientation. And we have no reason to believe that they will stop there.

The upshot of all this is that if you hold conservative or minority political or social views, about say, immigration, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, you could be guilty of “hate speech” and find yourself censored online.

No Governmental institution, let alone one which is largely unaccountable to the people it governs, should have this kind of power. Sign this petition to Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality asking her and the commission to adopt a different strategy to deal with Islamic extremism, one which does not so radically undermine our freedom of speech.

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/05/31/facebook-and-twitter-sign-up-...

http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=0010003B4VP5

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-eus-relentless-attack-o...

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-1937_en.htm

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Stop this Censorious "Code of Conduct" on illegal online hate speech

Dear Ms Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality,

I write to you in regard to the “Code of Conduct” announced by the European Commission and IT Companies regarding “illegal online hate speech”.

Such a “Code of Conduct” is deeply troubling and profoundly opposed to the free expression of ideas. In what I hope is a well-meaning attempt to combat racism and xenophobia, the Commission is going far beyond its remit as an entirely unelected body, deciding, on behalf of the citizens of the EU, what kind of speech incites hatred and which does not, or, which kind of speech is acceptable and which is not.

The “Background” to the “Code of Conduct” makes an extremely weak distinction between “content that ‘offends, shocks or disturbs the State or any sector of the population’ and content that contains genuine and serious incitement to violence and hatred.”

Incitement to violence, in most cases is perfectly clear – incitement to hatred however is extremely vague. Combatting “hate speech” could mean combatting any kind of speech which the prevailing political establishment does not like.

Diverse people across the EU may have concerns about immigration for example. Some would consider this hate speech. For most people who utter such opinions about immigration, it is evidently not hate speech, but sincere political and cultural concerns about the impact of immigration on native populations.

The press release for the Code of Conduct offers no assurance whatsoever that the limits of what counts as “hate speech” will not indefinitely expand, until it simply becomes a synonym for “speech which the Commission and IT companies find disagreeable.”

Those who are protected by this “Code of Conduct” currently focuses on religion, racial and national origin, yet this will inevitably expand to include gender, sexual orientation and any other potentially vulnerable group. This “Code of Conduct” therefore will lead to the suppression of minority and conservative viewpoints, especially on important social questions, and the place of Islamic ideology in society, as such opinions are deemed “hate speech”.

I call on the Commission to end this censorious action and promote a different strategy for combating the spread of violent Islamic extremism – a strategy which does not see the EU seriously undermining the free speech of its citizens, and especially the free speech of those who would offer dissenting or conservative viewpoints.

[Your Name]

Stop this Censorious "Code of Conduct" on illegal online hate speech

Dear Ms Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality,

I write to you in regard to the “Code of Conduct” announced by the European Commission and IT Companies regarding “illegal online hate speech”.

Such a “Code of Conduct” is deeply troubling and profoundly opposed to the free expression of ideas. In what I hope is a well-meaning attempt to combat racism and xenophobia, the Commission is going far beyond its remit as an entirely unelected body, deciding, on behalf of the citizens of the EU, what kind of speech incites hatred and which does not, or, which kind of speech is acceptable and which is not.

The “Background” to the “Code of Conduct” makes an extremely weak distinction between “content that ‘offends, shocks or disturbs the State or any sector of the population’ and content that contains genuine and serious incitement to violence and hatred.”

Incitement to violence, in most cases is perfectly clear – incitement to hatred however is extremely vague. Combatting “hate speech” could mean combatting any kind of speech which the prevailing political establishment does not like.

Diverse people across the EU may have concerns about immigration for example. Some would consider this hate speech. For most people who utter such opinions about immigration, it is evidently not hate speech, but sincere political and cultural concerns about the impact of immigration on native populations.

The press release for the Code of Conduct offers no assurance whatsoever that the limits of what counts as “hate speech” will not indefinitely expand, until it simply becomes a synonym for “speech which the Commission and IT companies find disagreeable.”

Those who are protected by this “Code of Conduct” currently focuses on religion, racial and national origin, yet this will inevitably expand to include gender, sexual orientation and any other potentially vulnerable group. This “Code of Conduct” therefore will lead to the suppression of minority and conservative viewpoints, especially on important social questions, and the place of Islamic ideology in society, as such opinions are deemed “hate speech”.

I call on the Commission to end this censorious action and promote a different strategy for combating the spread of violent Islamic extremism – a strategy which does not see the EU seriously undermining the free speech of its citizens, and especially the free speech of those who would offer dissenting or conservative viewpoints.

[Your Name]