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Parliamentary questions
16 November 2010
Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission

1, 2, 3, 5. The Commission has not had any contact with the US administration as regards Mr Assange or the activities of Wikileaks. The Commission has not taken any action towards Wikileaks and has no power to take any measure such as censorship or website blocking.

4 and 6. Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of our democratic societies, enshrined in Article 11(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Internet and the technologies of the information society represent key opportunities for enabling people to fully exercise their freedom of expression and information. This freedom may be subject to restrictions only if these are ‘prescribed by law’, imposed in order to attain one or more of the legitimate ends referred to in the European Convention on Human Rights and ‘necessary in a democratic society’ in order for these ends to be attained.

According to Article 51 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union the provisions of the Charter are addressed to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity and to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law. To the extent that the question by the Honourable Member relates to measures by Member States outside the course of implementation of EC law, it is thus for Member States alone to ensure that their obligations regarding fundamental rights — as resulting from international agreements and from their internal legislation — are respected. Therefore, the Commission is insofar not in a position to comment on the question of the Honourable Member.

7. The Commission believes that a common understanding regarding the impact of technology and the Internet on democracy and human rights would be a desirable goal to achieve and it is ready to participate in and, where appropriate, facilitate the discussion among different Institutions, the Member States and other stakeholders, all of which play an essential role and have significant responsibilities in ensuring the achievement of such an objective. Furthermore, in the context of the revision of the Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications, the Commission has actively facilitated and welcomed the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council concerning end-users' access, or use of, services and applications through electronic communications networks (including the Internet). According to the Regulatory Framework currently in force, any measure taken by Member States in this area ‘shall respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and general principles of Community law’. The Commission will ensure that this and other relevant measures will be duly transposed and acted upon by the Member States of the European Union.

OJ C 243 E, 20/08/2011
Last updated: 24 November 2010Legal notice