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This article was published on August 5, 2008

    Members of the European Parliament want €20 million to fight internet censors

    Members of the European Parliament want €20 million to fight internet censors
    Ernst-Jan Pfauth
    Story by

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

    Eight members of the European Parliament are pretty fed up with Internet censors like the Chinese government and some obscure dictators. In a proposal for a new European guideline – EU Global Online Freedom Act, representatives from Sweden, Holland, the UK, Portugal, Denmark, Finland, Austria, and Germany ask for a black list of countries that can’t stop themselves from censoring web content.

    They believe every citizen has the right to publish information and opinions. Whenever their government violates this human right, the EU should punish these countries with export sanctions. Moreover, European tech companies won’t be allowed to supply software and hardware to support censorship practices.

    The eight politicians also believe in a pro-active approach. Therefor, they asked for a yearly budget of €20 million to develop software that visualizes and promotes digital human rights.

    I’m glad these European representatives make an effort to battle Internet censors. Especially since China, world’s next super power, keeps pumping money in their censorship efforts. China is even paying commenters to say the ‘right’ thing. Many diplomats expect China to start exporting their advanced firewall.

    On the other hand, will the EU be brave enough to punish China for censoring online content? In the end, I’m afraid, the economic benefits will rule out the ethical ones. No country can’t afford to ignore, let alone punish, China.