The European Commission is considering creating an EU-wide complaint procedure for people whose websites are wrongly blocked by internet service providers.
Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová said in a letter that “the Commission is analysing the need for a specific initiative on notice-and-action procedures to bring legal certainty and transparency to the way online intermediaries take down content that is alleged to be illegal.”
She was responding to a question from Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda about what action the Commish would take over improper blocking of the Chaos Computer Club website last December. According to the hacking and digital rights group, its website was blocked by several British ISPs.
However, those familiar with the planned Digital Single Market legislative package, due to be presented next month, say there is no specific reporting measure included as yet.
Privacy advocacy group the Open Rights Group is concerned that the plethora of filters – for hate speech, terrorist activity, pornography and other inappropriate content – has led to massive over-blocking of legal content in the UK. Its free tool at blocked.org.uk allows users to check whether a site has been blocked.
France, too, has faced criticism for this form of censorship.
“The blocking of internet sites without prior judicial authorisation which recently started in France is a clear example of the risks that such measures represent for human rights, and particularly for freedom of expression and the right to receive and communicate information,” said Council of Europe human rights commissioner Nils Muižnieks two weeks ago.
He urged lawmakers to ensure that any blocking measures “are subject to effective democratic control and that the persons at whom they are directed have an effective remedy available to challenge them”. ®