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Parliamentary questions
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19 October 2017
Question for written answer E-006565-17
to the Commission
Rule 130
Jussi Halla-aho (ECR)

 Subject:  Proportionality and fitness for purpose of action to prevent hate speech and fake news.
 Answer in writing 

Hate speech and fake news on social media have triggered a wide-ranging debate in several EU countries. The Commission has demanded that social media companies tighten their moderation guidelines so that there will be no need for hate speech legislation at EU level. In Germany, for example, a law on hate speech on social media has just come into force whereby social media companies can be fined up to EUR 50 million if hate speech or fake news are not removed promptly. It is feared that the threat of high fines under the hate speech law in Germany will cause social media to practise strict advance censorship.

There has been a perceptible tendency for nationalist or conservative voices that diverge from the prevailing social consensus to be branded as hate speech even though they are in no way threatening or slanderous in content. Similarly, fact-checking on the news content of mainstream media carried out by low-budget news channels is labelled ‘fake news’. Such groundless branding is likely to heighten tension in the social climate. The only attitude to take on restricting freedom of speech in order to maintain national cohesion is one of extreme discretion and caution.

The greatest challenges of our time, such as immigration and Islamic terrorism, cannot be resolved by silencing public debate about them. Even severe criticism of politicians and authorities must be allowed or else we are moving towards an undemocratic society.

Does the Commission intend to open up a debate in the EU on the proportionality and fitness for purpose of action to prevent the spread of hate speech and fake news, so that there is no unnecessary limitation of freedom of speech or avoidance of open public discussion on social topics which people find important?

Original language of question: FI 
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