Clear, transparent and adequate safeguards are needed to protect the free expression of internet users and ensure their access to information, according to Thorbjørn Jagland.
The Secretary General expressed his concerns following the 1 June publication of a study, commissioned to the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, on the regulations governing blocking, filtering and removal of Internet content in the organisation’s 47 member states.
Jagland wants European governments to ensure that their legal frameworks and procedures in this area are in compliance with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He said:
Governments have an obligation to combat the promotion of terrorism, child abuse material, hate speech and other illegal content online.
However, I am concerned that some states are not clearly defining what constitutes illegal content. Decisions are often delegated to authorities who are given a wide margin for interpreting content, potentially to the detriment of freedom of expression. On the basis of this study we will take a constructive approach and develop common European standards to better protect freedom of expression online.