Website blocking in France; other anti-terrorist legislation in some OSCE countries may curb free expression, says OSCE Representative
VIENNA, 30 March 2015 - OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said today that the unilateral decisions by the Interior Ministry in France, without judicial oversight, to block five websites for allegedly causing or promoting terrorism represents a serious threat to free expression and free media.
“Blocking websites without judicial oversight may endanger free expression and free media and creates a clear risk of censorship of online content by political bodies,” Mijatović said.
The Representative urged the French authorities to reconsider the parts of the anti-terrorist law enabling website blocking, which was passed in November last year.
“Legislation to fight terrorism should not curb free speech by introducing notions that are too vague or lead to the repression of free expression,” Mijatović said.
The Representative also noted with concern legislative debates in several OSCE participating States over provisions with a similar potential impact on the freedom of expression. These include new criminal provisions approved in Spain regarding access to or dissemination of extremist content, and certain anti-terrorist provisions in proposed Bill C-51 in Canada.
Mijatović said her Office is monitoring developments regarding anti-terrorist proposals and their effect on free expression throughout the OSCE region.
“I call on all OSCE participating States to exercise care and restraint when introducing anti-terrorist laws that could endanger freedom of expression and free media,” Mijatović said.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.