Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home Focus The EU Council's general approach on Terrorist Content Online proposal: A step towards pre-emptive censorship

The EU Council's general approach on Terrorist Content Online proposal: A step towards pre-emptive censorship

11 December 2018
by eub2 -- last modified 11 December 2018

On 6 December 2018, the EU Council published its general approach on the proposed Terrorist Content Online Regulation.


The Council's position poses serious risks to violate inviduals' fundamental rights. The approach follows a pattern of rushing into introducing new measures without an appropriate evaluation of their efficiency or consequences to fundamental rights such as privacy and freedom of expression.

"The proposed 'proactive measures' are an inevitable step towards pre-emptive censorship," said Diego Naranjo, Senior Policy Advisor at EDRi. "Furthermore, the debate has been rushed, even though there is no evidence that this Regulation is actually needed. For nearly two years, the Council was unable to move the negotiations forward. Now, in only eight weeks, it has achieved a consensus to introduce measures that threaten the open internet and our freedom of expression."

In its general approach, the Council seems to ignore the fact that proposed "proactive measures" to tackle terrorist content online lack adequate safeguards for fundamental rights, and that the overbroad definitions introduced in the Regulation text introduce risks of arbitrariness in the removal of content online.

In practice, these measures will mean automated detection tools and upload filters. The Impact Assessment for the Regulation admits that there is "rich literature (...) on the need for specific safeguards for algorithmic decision making, where biases and inherent errors and discrimination can lead to erroneous decisions". The Regulation contains no specific safeguards that would actually work, since platforms are likely to rely on their terms of service - and not law - when disabling access to content. This leaves citizens without access to remedies to bring back legal content online. This is likely to affect human rights defenders, investigative journalists, terrorism victims, NGOs researching war crimes and many other individuals based on their perceived activism, political affiliation, gender, race or origin.

We regret that the Council has not taken the time to improve the many issues that need to be reformed in the proposal, and we hope that the EU Parliament resists the pressure from the Commission and Member States, and adopts legislation that protects fundamental rights.

European Digital Rights (EDRi) is a not-for-profit association of digital civil rights organisations. Our objectives are to promote, protect and uphold civil rights online.

European Digital Rights (EDRi)
EU Alerts

EUbusiness Week no. 851
Time to speed up climate action
→ EUbusiness Week archive

The Week Ahead no. 491
COVID-19 coordination - Portuguese presidency work programme - Recovery and Resilience Facility - relations with the US - right to disconnect

Subscription options