16:15 - 16:45
States think we're stupid: Internet censorship around Europe since ACTA

Short thesis

In 2012, we won against ACTA. But did we, really?

We criticized ACTA for its corporate censorship provisions. After the overwhelming vote in the EU Parliament, there was hope that the populist reliance on companies to regulate the digital world would be killed once and for good. Since then however, countries have been pushing for more “cooperation with industry” in the absence of human rights safeguards.


This talk gives an overview of online censorship across Europe and an outlook into the future.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreemeent (ACTA) planned to introduce corporate censorship and to regulate online communications. Since its rejection, many European countries have made moves to launch such measures while failing to provide guarantees for the freedom of expression online. The push for corporate governance of our free speech rights is increasing, despite our victory against ACTA – be it in the name of the fight against alleged copyright infringement, terrorism or child abuse.

Today, in the wake of the attacks in Paris, policy-makers across the EU now call explicitly for measures that violate our online rights. Since 2012, the EU institutions have also been increasingly holding meetings with social media representatives to discuss possible voluntary measures being implemented through the terms and conditions.

In France, websites are being blocked by ISPs on the demand of administrative authorities without any judicial decision. The country has also stepped up efforts to block or remove online content that is found to violate copyright protections. In addition, the country's ministers have been asking social media services to fight against speech that they deem « inappropriate ».

In the UK, 11 % of the most popular websites are currently being blocked by at least one of the “voluntary” filters implemented by internet service providers.

In Germany, the rights-holder industry is actively using Google's contentID system to increase censorship without the need for a court decision which leads to a situation where cultural content is viewable everywhere – except in Germany.

So what will the future look like when we're considering the development of the Internet of things and generation of more and more data. What does this trend towards increased corporate censorship mean for the automatisation of our households? And how will governments make use of the rise of big data – will they rely more on untransparent algorithms instead of laws?