EU Hate Speech Conduct Code ‘May Infringe’ MPs’ Freedom of Expression

An online Code of Conduct initiated by the European Commission and aimed at fighting hate speech may infringe freedom of expression of the members of the European Parliament, independent member of the European Parliament Janice Atkinson told Sputnik on Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier on Tuesday, the European Commission, together with major social media and IT companies — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft — announced the Code of Conduct on illegal online hate speech. The Code requires that the companies review the majority of hate speech notifications in less than 24 hours and take necessary measures, removing illegal posts.

“The Commission is itching to shut down free speech in the [EU] parliament, trying to stop MEPs from speaking on behalf of their voters,” Atkinson said.

There is a delicate balance between fighting hate speech and attacking uncomfortable political views. There have already been attacks on social media, Facebook, “for so-called policing of write-wing posting,” Atkinson noted.

“But if extreme left-wing or right-wing parties are democratically elected, is it right to deny them funding? Manfred Weber [chair of the Group of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament] suggested that anyone who is against principles of the European project should also be denied of funds. If that happens, that would include around one third of the elected MEPs across Europe,” Atkinson said.

At the moment, the code of conduct is not legally binding for internet companies. It was initiated by Vera Jourova, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, in the context of the recent terror attacks in Europe, in order to prevent social media from becoming a tool in the hands of terrorists to influence young people and spread violence.


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