Last week, the leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups agreed to a „European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles for the Digital Decade”. The signing by the President of the Parliament is considered a formality. According to EU Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, the text is intended to serve as a benchmark and guide for political decision-makers.
MEP Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party) comments on the text:
“The declaration promises ‘effective protection of communications against access by unauthorised third parties’ and protection against illegal surveillance. The promise to promote interoperability, transparency, open technologies and standards is also a positive achievement. However, the plans for indiscriminate scanning of private communications („chat control“) and the blanket data retention laws in force in many European countries call into question the credibility of the agreed commitments.
Our attempt to enshrine a right to encryption and anonymity as well as a rejection of indiscriminate data retention failed due to resistance of governments and the EU Commission. Instead, strange compromises such as the promise to ban (already) unlawful surveillance were agreed.
To justify its plans to attack net neutrality by introducing internet access fees, the EU Commission wrongly refers to the new declaration. According to it, appropriate framework conditions are to be developed so all market players who benefit from the digital transformation make a fair and appropriate contribution to the costs of public goods, services and infrastructures. However, this call for a fair contribution is to be understood in terms of effective taxation of internet corporations, because only through taxation can all market actors really be made to contribute financially to the common good.
The declaration also professes, with problematic radicalism, to protect all children and young people from “harmful and illegal content”, exploitation, manipulation and abuse on the internet and to “prevent” the digital space from being used to commit or facilitate crimes. This objective should not be taken as an illusion that all criminal offences could be prevented, nor as a legitimisation for general surveillance or control of young people’s use of the Internet.”