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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

Pisac ACM
16. 03. 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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(../..)
 


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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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 sarko_merkel_mieux

The official presentation of a "Program" respecting People's choices voted in the June 7, 2009 EU Elections, to be debated in EU Council and EU Parliament during its 1st Session on July in Strasbourg, is the No 1 Priority, according to Democratic principles, for the Franco-German axis, said the main winners at the ballot box, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angie Merkel.

They stressed  that the New EU Commission's President must have a "Program" in favor of an EU which "protects" its Citizens, regulates financial markets and aims at a "Political" Europe" : a wording they have used as incompatible with Turkey's controversial EU bid.

They also declared ready for a "political" endorsment of "Mr. Barroso's candidacy" in June's EU Council, considering that an official decision would have to be made after EU Parliament's debates and votes, possibly from next month (July), with the legally necessary final acceptance shortly after Lisbon Treaty's entry into force, hoped for September or October.


- "A Program, and Mr. Barroso" : This resumes, in substance, the anouncements made by Sarkozy and Merkel, on the question of current EU Commission's President, Barroso's declared wish to succeed to himself for a second mandate, to be extended during the following 5 years.

 In their 1st meeting after EU Elections, they observed that "the Franco-German axis counted in European Elections' campaign... But, we both keep a realistic view : We saw the number of those who abstained, and we must absolutely give them an answer. We also see the disilusionment of an important number of Europeans vis a vis Europe, and we are aware of the responsibilities we have".

sarko

 - The "Duty" of the new EU Commission's President, after June 7, 2009 EU Elections' result, "is to act for a Europe which protects the Europeans, to commit himself into working for a better Regulation of Financial transactions, ... and to have a Political will for Europe", underlined Sarkozy.

Therefore, "we have asked M. Barroso... to clarify, to officialy present the intentions he has", he anounced.

- "We want to speak also about the Programme", explained Merkel.

- "It's important that for the next EU Parliament's mandate (2009-2014) we take the right Decisions for Europe.  Obviously on Persons, but mainly Decisions on Issues", she stressed.

- "It's not simply a question of a Person, it's also a question of a Programme". We are "really asking Mr. Barroso to commit himself on a Program, and on Principles, on Values", Sarkozy added.

EU President-in-office, Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, accepted the Franco-German stance :

- "Barroso must present his Programme. The Czech Presidency agrees with that", Fischer reportedly said later, after meeting Sarkozy.

But Press reports from Brussels claimed that Barroso had preferred to be officially appointed by EU Council since June, (i.e. next week), "because this was implied by the current Treaty of Nice, according to him", and considered any delay until the possible ratification of the new, Lisbon Treaty on September/October, as "undemocratic".

- "At any case, independently of what Germany and France ask, it's also EU Parliament's wish". "We shall propose Mr Barroso's candidacy... But even in the framework of Nice Treaty, EU Parliament has to be associated in this Decision", the French President observed.

If this is correctly done, then "we support Mr. Barroso's candidature", and "if the (EU) Parliament agrees, we might ratify this decision since July", (i.e. next month), they both said.

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- "France and Germany support Baroso's candidacy, But we want to speak also on the Program. We believe that this Program should be established in close cooperation with EU Parliament, and that's why we have followed an appropriate way", said Merkel.  - If EU Parliament wants, this election can take place on July,  but this must be done in full agreement.

- "We shall support Mr. Barroso's candidacy, without doubt", said Sarkozy. "But we have asked from Mr. Barroso, as I told him yesterday, to put into detail.. his intentions, at the eve of his 2nd mandate, if the situation avails itself.


    France and Germany "don't want to take an Official Legal Decision by writting" during "the next (EU) Council" (on June 18-19), declared Sarkozy.  Because they prefer, at this stage, only "a Political decision" on June, "so that we (EU Council) can work together with EU Parliament", which starts to meet only Next Month, since July in Srasbourg, "leaving a Legal decision by writting for later".

    - "If the Conditions are fuillfiled in EU Parliament, we (EU Council) are ready to give the agreement and make it offficial", said Merkel

    - "But, now we are working in the base of Nice Treaty. If tommorow we want to work in the spirit of Lisbon Treaty, we have to find a proper way", she added.

    - "Of course it's Legally complicated, because we are going to make a Political proposal to the forthcoming Council, for an EU Commission's President, on the basis of Nice Treaty : So, we (EU Council) will not appoint the Commissioners. Only the President.  If EU Parliament agrees, it could endorse this position on July", explained Sarkozy.

    But, on Autumn, "if Ireland ratifies Lisbon Treaty, there will be, at any case, a 2nd Decision, to appoint the Commission's President, this time on the basis of Lisbon treaty, and then, we, the EU Member States, would have to appoint (also) the EU Commissioners", he added.

    As for the precise Timing :  - "Everything is suspended until the Irish vote... Now, we must all make everything possible to help Ireland to say "Yes"" to Lisbon Treaty... The Irish Referendum, ..will take place either on September or on October. It's a Question which depends on the Irish. And,  then, we shall have the Choice of the Candidates for the permanent Institutions of Europe".

    However, "if Ireland says No, we, French and Germans, have to assume our responsibilities, and we'll do so", he concluded.

    But British and Swedish governments were reportedly eager to have a final EU Council decision on Barroso since this month, on June's European Council. While the other EU Member Countries are divided, several of them preferring to wait until EU Parliament pronounces itself, on July, and/or until Lisbon Treaty might be ratified by Ireland at the beginning of the Autumn. Barroso's current mandate ends on November.

    There are also various, contradictory and/or unpredictable reactions inside EU Parliament vis a vis Barroso's wish to continue a 2nd mandate, because many MEPs are openly or secretly opposed, reluctant, or hesitating.

    In the biggest EU Countries, as France and Germany, EU Citizens voted on June 2009 EU Elections for a renovated, non-technocratic but Political Europe which cares for its Citizens, with an Identity, Values and Borders, declared incompatible with Turkey's controversial EU bid, by mainstream, pro-European Governing Parties. Similar choices were also supported in several other small or medium EU Countries.

    On the contrary, whenever, in other Countries, Governing and other mainstream Parties didn't make these choices or eluded them, EU Citizens massively voted for euro-Sceptics whenever they were the only ones to to promise anti-bureacratic change and oppose Turkey's demand to enter into the EU, (f.ex. in the UK, Netherlands, etc).

    It's seems to be an Open Question whether Sarkozy and Merkel's conditions will be really accepted by Barroso, who was appointed on 2004 in a different political context, (with Socialist Prime Ministers in Germany, France, etc), had rejected in the Past the idea of EU becoming "equal to the USA" as "ridiculous", and pushed for Turkey's contoversial EU bid, trying to "soften" or contain the changes desired by the People who voted for Merkel and Sarkozy with another policy vis a vis Turkey on 2005 in Germany and on 2007 in France, as they did all over Europe on 2009.

    In addition to many EPP Governments, it's 3 remaining Socialist Prime Ministers : Gordon Brown in the UK, Zapatero in Spain, and Socrates in Prortugal, who support Barroso, as well as Liberal Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt. But their Parties lost the June 2009 EU Elections.

    Questioned whether there was still "Time" for "other" possible "Candidates", Sarkozy and Merkel did not deny, nor made any comment on that, but simply said that "it's not for us to make publicity for any candidates. We anounced our choice ("A Program, and Mr. Barroso"). But we respect any other candidate".

    Among various other names cited are former Belgian Prime Minister Verhofstadt, former UNO's Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson of Ireland, Italian former EU Commission's vice-President Monti, etc. Meanwhile, Luxembourg's PM Juncker, (who had been unanimously accepted by EU Council for EU Commission's Presidency on 2004, but refused), announced his intention to resign from "EuroGroup"'s Chair. Thus, he might be available for another Top EU job.

    As "EuroFora"'s "opinion" said (See publication dated 9/6/09) : - "If the current candidates (i.e. Barroso, etc) to the Top EU jobs promise and guarantee to respect People's democratic choices, then, it's OK".

"Otherwise, Europe must find new candidates, really motivated and able to implement these democratic choices of the People."

    Because, "in Democracy, the forthcoming choices for EU's Top Jobs,...should be made according to EU Citizens' Votes in June 7, 2009 European Elections, and main EU Governments' strategic policies".
        

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