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Breyer: Von der Leyen has simply not understood the digital age

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

Today, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her annual State of the European Union address to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg. In her speech, she hailed adopted (Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act) and planned digital laws (AI Act) and announced the formation of an expert group on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Pirate Party MEP and digital expert Patrick Breyer counters:

“Ms. von der Leyen is the conservative Commission president whose term of office must soon finally come to an end, but who will have done plenty of mischief by then: because she uncritically cheers digitization, wants to burn our data in the profit interest of industry, and simply did not understand the digital age.

„The von der Leyen Commission regularly proves with its unethical legislative proposals that it is trampling on the fundamental rights of EU citizens. With the Digital Services Act, von der Leyen has virtually given her blessing to the surveillance capitalism of the tech industry. The fact that she now wants to let representatives of these corporations help shape Europe’s future in the area of Artificial Intelligence fits in well with the picture. With her proposal for an AI Act, she wants to open the door to biometric mass surveillance in public.

“On the one hand, Ms. von der Leyen keeps official text messages with the head of Pfizer about billion-dollar deals secret bypassing all rules, but on the other hand she wants to have our private messages indiscriminatly scanned by unreliable suspicion machines via #ChatControl and destroy the digital secrecy of correspondence. She is the conservative commission president whose appointment we Pirates have rejected from the start.

„Ms. von der Leyen is remembered by many young Germans as ‘Zensursula’. With an emotional fear campaign, she tried years ago to push through an ineffective and harmful Internet censorship law, ignoring mass protests and criticism from academia. In 2015, she voted in the Bundestag to reintroduce blanket data retention, even though the European Court of Justice had ruled it disproportionate. Nothing at all comes from her on curbing lobbying, more transparency and genuine citizen participation. The Pirate Party demands for all these reasons that she finally leave next year.”

Breyer concludes by referring to a tweet by Edward Snowden a few weeks ago about the planned chat control: “It seems that in just ten years, the EU institutions have transformed from ‘our best hope for a sincere guarantor of global human rights’ into ‘an authoritarian cabal that vigorously advocates the global, machine-enforced restriction of basic human freedoms.'”