Freedom of Information Coalition (FOIC) takes case to European court

Freedom of Information Coalition (FOIC) takes case to European court

23-05-2022 17:13:32


FOIC, a coalition of internet service providers and internet and press freedom organisations, requests a ruling on the blockade of RT and Sputnik

A coalition of internet service providers, as well as internet and press freedom organisations, will petition the European court to rule on the legality of the EU-wide blockade of Russian state channels RT and Sputnik (and others). On May 24, FOIC will file a petition with the European Court in Luxembourg.

The coalition argues that the European Union’s Council of Ministers made this far-reaching decision to censor these channels without respecting the freedom of information guaranteed by human rights treaties. This liberty is fundamental to our democratic society. The decision to censor was made in haste, without any independent or careful review. This calls into question our legal system and what we stand for as a society.

The coalition does not argue that the blocked Russian channels are biased, and as such, does not defend their content. However, the coalition sees it as its responsibility to call the measures’ legitimacy and proportionality into question. The question, after all, is whether these undemocratic censorship measures are justified. “In any legal system, disinformation should not be fought with censorship”, NVJ general secretary Thomas Bruning says, explaining his support for these proceedings.

“As a result of the war in Ukraine, the sanction measures were put together very quickly, and adopted unanimously. By imposing this measure, the government is limiting all citizens’ right to information as well as the free press in the European Union”, says Wido Potters of BIT, one of the internet service providers in the coalition.

“This is a political decision, without any judicial review”, argues Rejo Zenger of Bits of Freedom, “The decision to make information inaccessible should not be in the hands of our government leaders, but in those of independent judges.”

“The requirement that ISPs block access to information as a result of this measure violates the principle of net neutrality. A free and open internet is critical to the democratic rule of law”, says Anco Scholte ter Horst, director of internet service provider Freedom Internet.

The FOIC petition seeks to preserve access to all information. Human rights must be properly weighed when making a decision of this magnitude in a democratic state, and consequently the coalition asks that the court rule on whether human rights and liberties were properly weighed in imposing this censorship measure.
We already wrote blog on this matter.