We must fight for digital freedom also in Europe

2021. 02. 08.

Portuguese Justice Minister Francisca Van Dunem presented the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency to the Committee on Legal Affairs in the European Parliament (JURI) this afternoon. In his speech, Fidesz MEP Ernő Schaller-Baross welcomed the objective of the Presidency to take into account the interests of citizens and businesses in addition to accelerating the digital transformation. The EPP Group politician added: “Besides encouraging new digital solutions and strategic impetus, the Portuguese Presidency must place special emphasis on enforcing the principle of digital freedom of expression. We must fight for digital freedom also in Europe”.

At the meeting, the Fidesz MEP addressed the Portuguese Presidency with a question on how they intend to work together to ensure both effective action against illegal content online and digital freedom.

In her reply, the Portuguese Minister of Justice said that further to the issue of digital justice, the Presidency would give priority to the matter of accountability of internet platforms. She explained that a Digital Assembly would be held in Lisbon this June, with the main aim of adopting a “Declaration on Digital Democracy with a Purpose”. The Minister emphasized that the event would focus on the exchange of good practices related to an effective legal framework in Member States. The fight against illegal content on the internet and the enforcement of digital tech companies’ transparent operation are solely possible by the cooperation of EU Member States.

During the exchange of views, MEP Ernő Schaller-Baross highlighted: “This spring, the Hungarian Ministry of Justice will submit a legislative proposal to the Parliament aimed at ensuring the legal, transparent and controllable operation of large technology companies. In addition, the Government intends to continue to cooperate in the preparation of the legislation on digital services presented by the European Commission on 15 December 2020”.

The Fidesz politician explained that the Hungarian Ministry of Justice had established the Digital Freedom Committee in the spring of 2020. The Ministry has initiated a dialogue with the participation of state and market stakeholders in order to prevent the violation of the right of Hungarian citizens to express their opinions on social media dominated by international tech giants. According to the feedbacks, the vast majority of online platforms deliberately decide to restrict the publication of users’ content in the event of breaching their hardly transparent rules and consequently they themselves set the limits of online freedom of expression.

“Urgent action is therefore needed at national and EU level to make digital platforms operate transparently. Security and freedom of expression must prevail together in the online space” said Fidesz MEP Ernő Schaller-Baross.