How the EU Introduced Censorship in Violation of National Constitutions

The European Commission’s warning to Elon Musk that Twitter “must obey EU rules or else”, not only sounds like a Mafia warning, but reveals the dictatorial nature of the censorship of free speech and free press imposed by EU institutions. And it unmasks the role of the Commission, which has drafted the so-called “code of practice on disinformation”, while acting as if it were adopted voluntarily, by social media and fact checkers.

One is reminded of the famous scene in John Ford’s 1949 movie She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, where captain Nathan Brittles (John Wayne) tells Sgt. Tyree (Ben Johnson): “I order you to volunteer”. Except that in the iconic Western, Capt. Brittles has both the authority and the jurisdiction to give orders. That is not the case of the European Commission, at least not without violating all national constitutions and the EU Treaties themselves.

Indeed, the travesty was initiated in 2018, when the Commission gathered representatives of major technology firms and the online advertising industry to develop a “voluntary” framework to counter so-called fake news. This was after Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States, achieved through a massive use of social media. In a communication to the European Parliament on April 24, 2018, the Commission referred to the World Economic Forum as the first agency to raise the alarm in 2014, and presented detailed guidelines on what the code should look like — de facto drafting its content. Among the first “voluntary” signers were Facebook, Twitter and Mozilla.

Eventually, in 2021, having deemed the system of censorship not tough enough, the Commission issued a “guidance” for a “strengthened Code of practice”. It was articulated in the following points:

  • “Larger participation with tailored commitments
  • “Better demonetising of disinformation
  • “Ensuring the integrity of services
  • “Improving the empowerment of users
  • “Increasing the coverage of fact-checking and providing increased access to data to researchers
  • “Creating a more robust monitoring framework”

The strengthened Code was signed — “voluntarily” — by 34 signatories on 16 June 2022. In announcing the new Code, the Commission attempted to justify its overreach: “The 2022 Code of Practice is the result of the work carried out by the signatories. It is for the signatories to decide which commitments they sign up to and it is their responsibility to ensure the effectiveness of their commitments’ implementation. The Code is not endorsed by the Commission, while the Commission set out its expectations in the Guidance and considers that, as a whole, the Code fulfills these expectations.”

If the EU does not “endorse” the code, which is a private, “voluntary” initiative of the signers, why is it interfering in Twitter‘s voluntary decision to abandon those guidelines? The truth is, that the code of practice is the EU’s baby (or Cosa Nostra). Which raises the interesting question: by playing Captain Brittles to U.S. social media, isn’t the EU interfering in the U.S. political process?

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