Mittwoch, 3. April 2019

Fußnoten geklammert statt hochgestellt

Mr Daniel Dalton
Member of the European Parliament

Ms Julie Ward
Member of the European Parliament

Ms Julia Reda
Member of the European Parliament

2. April, 2019

EU Terrorist Content regulation will damage the internet in Europe without meaningfully contributing to the fight against terrorism

Dear MEP Dalton,
Dear MEP Ward,
Dear MEP Reda,

As a group of pioneers, technologists, and innovators who have helped create and sustain today’s internet, we write to you to voice our concern at proposals under consideration in the EU Terrorist Content regulation.

Tackling terrorism and the criminal actors who perpetrate it is a necessary public policy objective, and the internet plays an important role in achieving this end. The tragic and harrowing incident in Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this month has underscored the continued threat terrorism poses to our fundamental freedoms, and the need to confront it in all its forms. However, the fight against terrorism does not preclude lawmakers from their responsibility to implement evidence-based law that is proportionate, justified, and supportive of its stated aim.

The EU Terrorist Content regulation, if adopted as proposed, will restrict the basic rights of European internet users and undercut innovation on the internet without meaningfully contributing to the fight against terrorism (1).

We are particularly concerned by the following aspects of the proposed Regulation:

Unclear definition of 'terrorist content': The definition of ‘terrorist content' is extremely broad,
and includes no clear exemption for educational, journalistic, or research purposes. This creates
the risk of over-removal of lawful and important public interest speech.

Lack of proportionality: The regulation applies equally to all internet hosting services, bringing
thousands of services into scope that have no relevance to terrorist content. By not taking any
account of the different types and sizes of online services, nor their exposure to such illegal
content, the new rules would be far out of proportion with the stated aim of the proposal.

Unworkable takedown timeframes: The obligation to remove content within a mere 60 minutes of notification will likely lead to significant over-removal of lawful content and place a
catastrophic compliance burden on micro, small, and medium-sized companies offering services
within Europe. At the same time, it will greatly favour large multinational platforms that have
already developed highly sophisticated content moderation operations2

Reliance on upload filters and other ‘proactive measures’: The draft regulation frames
automated upload filters as ‘the’ solution for terrorist content moderation at scale, and provides
government agencies with the power to mandate how such upload filters and other proactive
measures are designed and implemented. But upload filtering of ‘terrorist content’ is fraught with
challenges and risks, and only a handful of online services have the resources and capacity to
build or license such technology. As such, the proposal is setting a benchmark that only the
largest platforms can meet. Moreover, upload filtering and related proactive measures risks
suppressing important public interest content, such as news reports about terrorist incidents and
dispatches from warzones (3)(4).

We fully support efforts to combat dangerous and illegal information on the internet, including through new legislation where appropriate. Yet as currently drafted, this Regulation risks inflicting harm on free expression and due process, competition and the possibility to innovate online (5).

Given these likely ramifications we urge you to undertake a proper assessment of the proposal and make the necessary changes to ensure that the perverse outcomes described above are not realised. At the very least, any legislation of this nature must include far greater rights protection and be built around a proportionality criterion that ensures companies of all sizes and types can comply and compete in Europe.

Citizens in Europe look to you for leadership in developing progressive policy that protects their rights, ensures their companies can compete, and protects their public interest. This legislation in its current form runs contrary to those ambitions. We urge you to amend it, for the sake of European citizens and for the sake of the internet.

Yours sincerely (6),

Mitchell Baker
Executive Chairwoman, The Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation

Tim Berners-Lee
Inventor of the World Wide Web and Founder of the Web Foundation

Vint Cerf
Internet Pioneer

Brewster Kahle
Founder & Digital Librarian, Internet Archive

Jimmy Wales
Founder of Wikipedia and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation

Markus Beckedahl
Founder, Netzpolitik; Co-founder, re:publica

Brian Behlendorf
Member of the EFF Board of Directors; Executive Director of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation

Cindy Cohn
Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Cory Doctorow
Author; Co-Founder of Open Rights Group; Visiting Professor at Open University (UK)

Rebecca MacKinnon
Co-founder, Global Voices; Director, Ranking Digital Rights

Katherine Maher
Chief Executive Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation

Bruce Schneier
Public-interest technologist; Fellow, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School


Ms Rachida Dati
Member of the European Parliament

Mr Josef Weidenholzer
Member of the European Parliament

Ms Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz
Member of the European Parliament

Ms Cornelia Ernst
Member of the European Parliament

Ms Eva Joly
Member of the Euroepan Parliament

1 Koskova, S. (2019) ‘Mozilla Foundation Fellow weighs in on flawed Terrorist Content proposal’ Available at:

2 CDT et al, (2019) Letter to Members of the European Parliament on Concerns with Terrorism Hash Database, Available at:

3 WITNESS et al, (2018) ‘WITNESS brings together voices to push back on dangerous EU “Dissemination of Terrorist Content” proposal’, Available at:

4 Engstrom, E., Feamster, N. (2017) ‘The limits of filtering’, Available at:

5 As has been noted by other commentators, the impacts of the legislative proposal on fundamental rights and the health of the internet ecosystem go beyond the areas highlighted in this letter. See for instance, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, (2019), Proposal for a Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online and its fundamental rights implications, Available at:

6 Affiliations are listed for identification only

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