Leaders of EU nations call on limited censorship following Paris attacks

12 Jan 2015

Following the attacks that occurred in Paris last week, leaders from a number of EU nations are calling on internet service providers (ISPs) to provide a limited form of censorship to report incitement of hatred.

In a joint statement signed by the leaders of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden, the coalition are raising the possibility of asking ISPs to provide the framework to identify online hatred and report it to authorities within moments.

“With this in mind, the partnership of the major internet providers is essential to create the conditions of a swift reporting of material that aims to incite hatred and terror and the condition of its removing, where appropriate/possible,” said the statement.

In what the group are calling the fight to ‘combat terrorist propaganda’, they have suggested that the European Union (EU) and others would be able to direct their own counter-propaganda that would be ‘positive, targeted and easily accessible’ to young people on the continent, but did not elaborate on what exactly this would entail.

Preventing online recruitment for terrorism

The points made in the document were collated during a meeting in Paris on 11 January by the 12 member states which suggested the future of the Syria Strategic Communication Advisory Team (SSCAT), orchestrated by Belgium, which would coordinate the EU’s counter-propaganda communications strategy.

The organisation was awarded €1m in funding last August to support its objectives of discouraging and quashing attempts by EU nationals travelling to Syria, currently in the grips of civil war and home of the Islamic State (IS) militants, and their curent and future attempts to convert EU nationals to their cause online.

However, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), a number of civil liberty groups believe the restrictions and monitoring proposed by the EU group with the help of ISPs could lead to people being receiving unwarranted prying from governments increasing online censorship.

Charlie Hebdo rememberance image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic