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Home 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

Автор ACM
Четверг, 16 Март 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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    The incoming Swedish EU Presidency (July-December 2009) may still remain in favour of Turkey's controversial EU bid, despite June 2009 EU Elections' results, but it has "very strong demands on Turkey"'s obligation to respect EU Rules, said the Head of Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, Cecilia Julin, to "EuroFora", reacting to critical Press reports.

    - "I know (that) the link is often made also to Sweden's position on Turkey"'s controversial EU bid. Indeed, "we (Swedish EU Presidency) are very much engaged in the future membership of Turkey, but not without fullfiling all the Criteria".

    - "It's very clear that we (Swedish EU Presidecny) have very Strong Demands on Turkey, in a sort of concept for Future membership of the Union, ...which will be a Long Process...", she stressed.

    This means, in particular, "the Copenhagen Criteria (on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law), and also the adaptation to the Acquis of the European Union".

     - "If you listen to what Mr. Bildt (the Swedish Foreign Minister) says on Turkey at different occasions, it's very clear : We want Turkey to become part of the Union, in the Future. But we want it to fullfil all the Criteria : The Acquis of the European Union. That's very clear", she concluded.

    The Senior Official of the Swedish Foreign Ministry was reacting to critical Press Reports, from Brussels' Journalists invited by EU Commission's secretariat to Stockholm, who claimed that Bildt was abusing of a ..."Whip" (sic !) against Cyprus, by "threatening" the presence of UNO's Peace-keeping force at the "Green line" which separates the island's Government-controlled areas from the territories occupied by Ankara's army, if Nicosia didn't accept any political solution, regardless of Turkey's demands, before the end of 2009.

        Governing AKEL Party's new Secretary General, Andros Kyprianou, reacted by declaring that no-one can threat the People of Cyprus : -"We shall decide for our Future, and nobody else",  he reportedly said, asking to "keep calm". "In order to find a Solution soon, certain basic Principles must be respected", he stressed, calling those who feel an urgency to use their influence on Turkey. Other Political Parties were more critical.

    This was a reference to recently reported statements by Turkish Minister Bagis, Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan and Turkey's National Security Council (a Military-Political body), accused to push towards a partitionist "2 States" solution, contrary to UNO SC Resolutions for Cyprus' reunification.

    December 2009 is a crucial moment for EU's appraisal of Turkey's controversial EU bid, because EU Council has decided to review then Ankara's compliance with the European position on the recognition of Cyprus' Government, which was clearly set out by an EU reply of 21 September 2005 to Turkish Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan's claims, refusing to recognize even the existence of EU Member Cyprus, in controversial statements he made to London (former EU chair) on July 29, 2005.

    EU Parliament's latest Resolution on Turkey, adopted on March 2009 in Strasbourg, warned Ankara that "the non-fulfillment of Turkey's commitments... by December 2009, may further seriously affect the process of Negotiations" with the EU.

    In practice, the issue boils down to Ankara's "embargo" against Ships and Airplanes using Cyprus' seaports or airports at the strategic EU island, which traditionaly hosts one of the World's biggest Shipping flags. EU has already "freezed" 6 relevant Chapters in EU - Turkey Negotiations since December 2006, after Ankara refused to fullfil a commitment it had undertaken when EU had decided to open controversial "accession" negotiations with Turkey, back on December 2005.

    - "As far as EU - Turkey relations are concerned, it's clear that Turkey needs to fullfil its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the additional Protocol (to "EC-Turkey Association Agreement"),  This is an important issue....and should be addresseed as soon as possible as it clearly affects the pace of the accession negotiations.Issues covered by the Declaration of September 2005 will continue to be followed up, and progress is urgently awaited", warned earlier in Strasbourg the out-going Czech EU Presidency (former vice-Prime Minister Alexander Vodra).

    But the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, Cecilia Julin, dismissed "interpretations" by "some" that Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was reportedly "threatening" Cyprus with consequences on the UNFICYP, if it doesn't accept any solution until December 2009, while Turkey is reportedly delaying in an attempt to impose a partitionist "2 States" solution.

    On the contrary, Julin, stressed that "Sweden has strong demands on Turkey'"s respect of "Copenhagen Criteria and EU Acquis".

    Meanwhile, Sweden  is "concerned" about the risk of "Stalemate" in Cyprus' Talks, but is well aware that "the main responsibilities lie with the two leaders and the UNO", Europe playing only a role of "facilitator".

    After carefully verifying, the Head of Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, stressed to "EuroFora" that Bildt's reference to UNFICYP "was not linked to a Threat", and dismissed those who "interpreted" it so.

    On the contrary, the Swedish EU Presidency acknowledged the fact that Peace Talks are mainly for the UN and the leaders of the Cypriot communities, EU's role being limited into that of a "facilitator".

    As for Turkey's reported attempts to impose a "2 States' solution", the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service sharply replied by stressing that Turkey must respect the "EU Acquis" rules.

    In particular :

    - "Basically he (Bildt) underlined that it's the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus and the UN that have the main responsibilities for solving the problem", started to say the Swedish Senior Official to "EuroFora", referring to the above-mentioned "briefing".

    - "But the EU had a role in sort of pointing out the benefits and facilitating a little bit the outcome for the settlement of the whole Cyprus' issue", she added.

    - "And he did state the Fact, that the rest of the World (i.e. USA, etc) will, of course, look at the differend issues which are at the table, and the future of the UN Peace keeping force is part of what is at the table", she admitted.

    - "I understand that some have interpreted that as a Threat, by the Swedish Minister" "But", in reality, "it's a statement of a Fact, that, when we'll look at the differend issues, one of the issues on which we shall have to take a stand on, is the future of the UN Peace keeping force in Cyprus".

    Indeed, one of the questions usually raised for a Solution of Cyprus' issue is what International and/or European or other Guarantees, by a Peace-keeping force, might be needed afterwards, eventually for a transitory period.

    Questioned anew by "EuroFora" whether (according to critical Press Reports) this could be taken as a veiled warning that, if Cyprus didn't accept any Turkish demand for any solution whatever, it might be left alone to face Ankara's Military Invasion/Occupation, she denied :

    - "He (Bildt) didn't say it in that way"... "It was not linked to a threat, or anything like that", the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service stressed.

    On the contrary, "he (Bildt) underlined that the main responsibility lies with the parties concerned on the island". "The EU can try to facilitate and show the benefits of reaching a settlement. But also, when the EU and the rest of the World (i.e. USA) will have to look at it, they will look at all the Facts on the table, and the presence of the UN Peace-keeping force is one".

    And "he (Bildt) didn't speak about that at all", she replied to "EuroFora" question on Turkey's reported attemps to impose, in one way of another, a partitionist "2 States solution".

    Asked whether Bildt's aim was to incite both parties to move forward efficiently, she agreed :

    - In fact, "the EU is really very concerned with the Stalemate in the situation. Yes !", the Head of Sweden's Foreign Ministry's Press Service anounced. That's why Bildt "was hoping for the two parties (i.e. for Turkey's also) to engage and break, a little-bit, the present stalemate, come to a solution of the issue" of Cyprus.

    But, replying  to a "EuroFora"s question on the risk, denounced by several politicians in case of strict Time Deadlines, for Turkey to provoke a stalemate and wait for the time to come to impose a partitionist "2 States' solution", she reacted by pointing at Turkey's obligation to respect "EU Acquis" :

    - "Turkey must fullfil the EU Acquis : That's clear !", the Swedish Senior Official stressed.

    More details are expected when Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt will debate his Programme with new MEPs at EU Parliament's plenary mid-July in Strasbourg, that he has visited already in 2008.

    Foreign Minister Carl Bildt became familiar with Strasbourg's CoE last year, when Sweden chaired the PanEuropean organization of Human Rights. As EU chairman-in-office, he will also chair the 27-member States strong EU Group inside the 47-member States strong CoE.

    Minister for EU affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom is well known at EU Parliament, where she has been an active MEP of the Liberal Group for many years, following also Press Freedom issues.

    Both have already made various statements at "EuroFora", on differend topical matters.

    ***

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