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Haupt arrow newsitems arrow Europe Internet Providers Head Rotert to EF: Concern for EU-CoE Moves on "Hate Speech"+ Human Rights

Europe Internet Providers Head Rotert to EF: Concern for EU-CoE Moves on "Hate Speech"+ Human Rights

Geschrieben von ACM
Thursday, 16 March 2017
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- A Pioneer of Internet Global Communications, since the Early 1980ies, Professor in German University of nearby Karlsruhe (an EU "MIT" for many), as well as Experienced Top Representative of Internet Providers Associations, both at the European/International Level, and, particularly, for the currently Thriving German Digital Industry, Professor Michael Rotert, speaking to "Eurofora" on the sidelines of a CoE's PanEuropean/International Conference in Strasbourg, (See Infra), clearly Confirmed the Interest also of ISP Businesses in Europe to carefuly examine certain Delicate and "Hot", Topical Issues, affecting Both Human Rights and Economic/Social Interests, including that of Recently Growing, Controversial Attempts to activey involve Internet Providers in attempts to Block so-called "Hate Speech" by various Users, which raises Complex Questions whenever it goes Far Beyond the obviously Legitimate Fight against Violence, but might alsoo affect People's Views and Opinions on Political or Social matters, etc.

 

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- F.ex., in several such cases, it' Not always Evident what might be Really "Hate Speech", or Not, while, also, Different Experts might give Contrasting Verdicts, on a matter which Concerns also ECHR's Art. 1O on "Freedom of Expression", as well as EU's Fundamental Rights' Charter, etc., Prof. Rotert criticized earlier.


By doing so, as an Official Representative of Internet Providers Associations at a European level's Debate, he Revealed, in Fact, that this, currently, very "Hot" and Topical Issue, does Not concern Only the Human Rights' Defenders and Community, (which had been the 1st to Raise relevant Question Marks : See Infra), but also Hard Facts and Real Interests of Economic Actors in EU/CoE Member Countries, opening an way for some possibly Interesting Synergies.


Already, in a Recent Past, various relevant NGOs, including from the UK, Belgium and the USA, etc, with activities Spreading from Christian Values supporters, to Businesses, Medias, or Internet Freedom Associations, etc., which used to Cooperate also with EU Commission in Brussels, had launched Strong Protests and "Hot" Alerts against a Commissioner's controversial attempt to broker a Deal with Big Corporations among Internet Access Providers, (Most of them from the USA, such as "Google", "Facebook", etc), in order to Block and/or Muzzle any eventual Publication at the Web of Contents which might be considered as "Hate Speech", even if they had Nothing to do with Violence (i.e. Appeals for - and/or - Apology/Negationism of Violent Acts, etc), but Only concerned EU Citizens' Expression of Opinions and various Views on Social Issues and/or Values, Political Debates, etc, (See, f.ex., inter alia, also "Eurofora"s NewsReports at : ... + ...).


Things became even "Hotter" After the recent US Presidential Elections of November 2016, particularly when the Out-Going Obama Administration and some of its Closest Allies, had become quite Upset by the very Active and apparently Efficient Role that have Played Many and Various New Internet Medias in the UnExpected Victory of New US President Don Trump, (in Addition, also, to several Other such Socio-Political Developments, recently, also throughout Europe, etc).


To the point that, in Addition to various Similar Developments, launched inside the USA during the Last Months of that Out-Going Obama's Administration, (i.e., f.ex. between October/November 2016 and January 2017), we witnessed, even inside CoE's PanEuropean Parliamentary Assembly, during its Latest Plenary Session in Strasbourg, on January 2017, the Astonishing, and apparently UnPrecedented event, at the Vote of Amendments in a Report on "Internet Medias", addressed Only from Negative points of View, such as "Hate Speech", etc, a PACE Rapporteur from a State Notoriously "Problematic" on Internet Freedom and/or Free Speech Issues, (Turkey), to Systematicaly and Totaly Oppose All Amendments, even the most Lenient ones, presented by certain Mainstream and Experienced Top MEPs, as, f.ex, also the former Long-Time PACE Commitee President, Valeriu Giletchi, a prominent ChristianDemocrat MEP from Moldova, etc., including a Simple Mention of the Word "Freedom of Expression", and even a Faithful Citation of ECHR's well-established Case Law's famous Formula on the Legal Definition of the Human Right for Free Speech, its content, interest, scope and limits, (which were all, curiously, Rejected, with a Small Difference of Votes, by a Tiny Minority of MEPs Present at the Hemicycle until a very Late Hour of that Evening, while Most MEPs were Absent, during a particularly Busy Session Date)...


Therefore, it was, naturaly, a Welcome and Timely Development, to see, Today at the COE, that even a Representative of Internet Providers' Businesses, with Strong European, PanEuropean and even International Experience at Top Jobs in that area, and coming from one among the Biggest EU and CoE Member Countries, (Germany), as Professor Michael Rotert, was Motivated enough in order to Actively Raise such a nowadays "Hot" and Delicate Issue, which Affects Both Human Rights, GeoPolitics, and the Economy of Europe, (Comp. Supra and Infra). Particularly when it comes from an Historic Pioneer of Internet, who has reportedly Worked in certain practical Coperations Bringing Together Germany with France and USA, even China, etc., f.ex. already as Early as since the Middle 1980ies, when he managed to set up the First Email and/or other Trans-Continental Internet Communications, even Before the Creation of the World Wide Web during the 1990ies, (when f.ex., the 1st Web Page was notoriously Published from Geneva on 1995 by a Brittish Scientist on Physics, one of the 1st multilingual Internet Medias was Published and Experimented by "Eurofora"s co-Founder and some other Journalists Friends, under the Initial Name of "EIW", at the Beginning of 1996 in Strasbourg, closely Followed by the Famous "Drudge Report" in the USA, from 1997, etc. : See, f.ex.  ...). But also by a Well Experimented Top Representative of European/PanEuropean/International Associations of Internet Providers, (before Focusing recently on the relevant German Industruy Association), often Invited at various Top European and/or International Fora, (including f.ex., the "Internet Foundation", "IGF", etc), and EU/CoE Expert.

 

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Rotert was a Keynote Speaker in an exceptional CoE's Conference, Today Afternoon in Strasbourg, on "Key Trends from the AudioVisual Market, and Regulation", organized by CoE's PanEuropean AudioVisual Observatory (EAVObs), for the Celebration of its 25th Anniversary since it was Founded (1992 - 2017), (which had Invited also "Eurofora" to attend), on the occasion of which it Published its New, 2017 "YearBook" on recent Developments around Cinema, TV and Video on Demand (VoD), etc., Production, Circulation, Services, Distribution and Markets, as well as main "Players", concluding on current Perspectives for the emergence of "PanEuropean Groups" in Broadcasting and/or Medias Services.

 

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     Even Symbolicaly, EAVObs had been created by the COE on a very "particular" Year, 1992, when, (as Reminded earlier one among its Experts : Fransisco Cabrera-Blasquez, from Spain), the US was under Bill Clinton's Presidency, a Bloody War was Starting in former Yugoslavia, and "Mickey Mouse" was Arriving in Europe, (All this at the Same Time)... "Eurofora" remembers that by a Timely Coincidence, 1992 was also the Year during which Opened in Strasbourg the "European Press Centre" superb, Modern Building, (then Serving Journalists and Medias who covered Both the COE and EU Parliament, etc), in an overall Context of a Will to Help Boost Europe's role in the World of Global Informational/Cultural flows.

Today, 25 Years Later, Professor Rotert seemed to Agree, at least in principle, with "Eurofora"s subsequent remark that, in fact, the Issue that he had raised now, had at least a Threefold Dimension : (1) Human Rights and Freedom of Expression, (2) GeoPolitical, since most Big relevant Internet Providers are still located out of Europe, mainly at the US, (and particularly nowadays California). (3) Economic, as Users and/or other relevant Players, who might find, eventualy, too cumbersome and/or controversial, one or another relevant EU/COoE Rules about certain Delicate areas of so-called "Hate Speech" and Internet Providers' possible role and/or Duties, could Search to Find anOther Location, at anOther, Different Jurisdiction, elsewhere, (f.ex. Switzerland or Iceland, as far as EU Rules are concerned, and even USA or various Other Countries in the World (as some Interet-related Businesses have already done), as far as COE is concerned, possibly resulting in a regrettable loss for European Economy too.

CoE's Director on Medias and Internet, Silvia Grundmann, in a subsequent Intervention at that Conference, and afterwards speaking further with "Eurofora", warned that the PanEuropean Organisation for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law's competent Steering Committee on Medias and Information Society (CDMSI) currently Prepares a brand New official Recommendation, includig several relevant Norms, whose Draft is expected to be presented to COE's Highest Political Body, its Committee of Ministers, for Final Decision, towards the End of 2017.


The work of such Inter-Governemental Committees of the CoE is, in principle, largely "Confidential", and everything depends on Final Political Decisions by its Committee of Ministers, which will be Chaired, then, by Danemark.


Meanwhile, during the current Preparation period, CoE's Inter-Goveremental work is under the supervision of Committee of Ministers' rotating Chairmanships by Cyprus, which will be succeeded from the End of May 2017, by the Czech Republic, and Prof. Rotert ensured "Eurofora" that he intends to be well Present, as an Expert and/or relevant NGO/Civil Society representative, to the Work of CDMSI and other related CoE or EU bodies, "in order to Defend the Positions of Internet Providers" also on the above-mentioned, mainly Human Rights Issue.  


That matter becomes even more Topical Nowadays, from Manifold points of View, including even the AudioVisual Content Creation and Industry, whose Consumption model's "No 1 Shake-up", recently, is the Transition between Cinema and TV towards a "Rise of Internet Platforms", (including for VoD, etc), as stressed CoE's AudioVisual Observatory Expert, Agnes Schneeberger, speaking during the Conference Concluding session, together with the PanEuropean Body's CEO, Suzanne Nikoltchev, well experienced particularly on Legal affairs.


However, CoE's PanEuropean AudioVisual Observatory's Committee Chairman, Johannes Studinger, concluding the work of the Conference invited for a "Dialogue with Legislators" nowadays, inviting "Not to be Afraid to Ask Questions", even if Critical.


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("DraftNews", as already sent to "Eurofora" Subscribers/Donors, earlier. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be published asap).


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Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, speaking  to "EuroFora", denied rumors on Turkey's attempts to avoid an EU check of its obligations on Cyprus on December 2009 by blackmailing Nicosia to either accept any deal with intransigeant Turkish claims contrary to EU values on the island's political issue, or face threats against the territorial integriy of the EU island, semi-occupied by Ankara's army.

On the contrary, the incoming EU President-in-office, speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", promissed that he will act for EU Council's decisions on December 2009 assessment of Turkey's commitments on Cyprus to be kept.


    Bildt was asked to react to Cyprus' President Christofias' denunciation, earlier this week, that some want to exert "pressure" on Cyprus in order for Turkey to escape from its obligations.

    Avoiding to mention any precise Deadline, Bildt, however, warned about "Consequences" in case of "failure" to reunite Cyprus, but without saying whose responsibility an eventual deadlock might be.  

 Asked by "EuroFora" if there is a risk for "Turkey's commitments to "be forgotten or downgraded", "despite crystal-clear EU Council decisions and EU Parliament's latest Resolution on the assessment to make at the end of this year on Turkey's obligations", according to rumours that, instead of pressing Turkey, on the contrary, there might be "pressure on Cyprus", even "blackmail", as Media reported and President Christofias denounced this week, Bildt denied :

- "No ! ", he clearly replied.


- On the contrary, invited by "EuroFora", to "reassure that the Swedish EU Presidency (7-12/2009) will keep a fair stance, based on principles",  Bildt promised that "we (Swedish EU Presidency) will be very clear on all of the decisions taken by the (EU) Council".

He added, however, that "we have very numerous decisions that have been taken" by EU Council, as if he warned, also, on something else.

- "'I am not aware of any sort of statements coming out today''", Bildt started to say, on our reference to Cyprus' President Christofias" denunciation of Turkish lobby's manoeuvers this week, replying earlier to 'another"EuroFora"'s question during a Press Conference at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.


 - '"I know the issues that you' are concerned with'", he added, remembering  the statements he gave us when Sweden was chairing the PanEuropean CoE on 2008.

- "But, obviously, .. I think that Cyprus' Peace negotiations are extremenly important".

- And "'I think that we are at a unique moment in History, in the sens that both (Cyprus') President Christofias and Mr. Talat (the Turkish Cypriot leader), are personally convinced of the need to overcome the division".

 - "It's 20 Years since the fall of Berlin Wal, but we still have a Capital in Europe (Nicosia) that's divided". ,

- 'I don't that we should loose any time in overcoming that"..

 - ''We should be aware of the fact that success will bring great benefits, but failure, will also have major consequences. There will not be Status Quo' " It's a question of seeking a solution, or entering another situation, which is somewhat difficult to see exactly how that could evolve", he warned.

- "That being said, this is a negotiation for Cyprus itself", Bildt admitted.

 - ''We (EU) can support, the (EU) Commission primarily, be technically helpful, and then, of course, there is a specific role for the UN, when it comes to the Cyprus' situation".  

- "At least so far. It might not be for ever'. Certainly not for ever, but for this period of time", Bildt added, skiping now any reference to concrete threats on UNO's Peace keeping force in face of more than 40.000 Ankara's soldiers, contrary to some Press claims, (See previous NewsReports).


     Replying to another "EuroFora"'s Question,  if anyone might attempt to "impose a Deadline for the conclusion" of Cyprus' Talks on December 2009, Bildt avoided to speak of any precise Time-frame, and indirectly evoked the fact that  35 Years of Turkish Invasion/Occupation obviously durated too long :

'- "If I was from Cyprus, I would say that the Deadline was Yesterday ! '",
Bildt concluded.

Cyprus' Government Spokesman, Stephanou, reportedly pointed out that "a settlement is possible on December if Turkey changes its stance", accepting a solution for the reunification of the island based on UNO resolutiona and EU principles.

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Earlier, EU Chair, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld, highlighted an "historic opportunity" to "re-Unite" Cyprus according to EU's "basic Values"' (i.e. Human Rights) and 'Rules'", in a last-minute change of his draft speech to EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    The initial Draft spoke only about "healing" the island.

    Significantly, Reinfeldt linked Cyprus' reunification with Turkey's obligations to respect EU's "Values" and "follow" EU's "common Rules" :

    - What is "called Membership Negotiations" should lead, "at- the end of the day", into "sharing a set of common Basic Values (i.e. Human Rights, Democracy, etc), and following common Rules", stressed Reinfeld from the outset.
    
    - "This is something that those on the Outside (of the EU), are now  contemplating", up "to Ankara", for "a solution" on "Cyprus", observed the EU Chairman, immediately afterwards..  

    - "Both sides of Cyprus have been granted a historic opportunity to together reach an agreement on a solution to re-Unite the island, that has been divided for far too long", said Reinfeldt, modifying his draft text.


-  "The Swedish Presidency will act ...in accordance with Commitments EU has made, on the basis of Criteria that apply", "as a Honest Broker", he promised.    

- "To those on the inside (of the EU), allowing the membership process to become an opportunity to solve protracted disputes, can be tempting", he added.


    "In such cases, we must find solutions that can benefit both sides, and open up a way forward. Otherwise, it would jeopardize the progress we have made towards EU integration", Reinfeldt said.

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