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European Commissioner justifies shutting down social networks

The European Commission insists that the EU’s powers to unilaterally close some “problematic” social networks are “proportional,” according to Brussels Signal.

The statement followed a suggestion by EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton that the bloc could start disabling certain websites within a few hours using the Digital Services Act (DSA).

After Breton’s statement, Moritz Körner, a Renew Europe MEP, asked in parliament whether the Commission plans to follow the example of authoritarian states and close entire platforms in the EU. In the response, published on September 12, Breton insisted that such powers were justified. He called the closure of social networks, allegedly violating the DSA, “proportionate.”

“The DSA foresees that, for serious breaches threatening people’s life or safety, the Commission can ask the Digital Services Coordinator of the Member State of establishment to request the competent judge, who is to decide whether such measure is justified and proportionate, to temporarily restrict the access of recipients to the very large online platform or search engine from the EU.”

Breton noted that the request could be circumvented in case of an “urgent situation”, confirming that the EU did have the right to temporarily exclude certain platforms from the EU Internet, if it deemed it appropriate.

Civil society activists expressed concern amid the commissioner’s enthusiasm to use the powers granted by the DSA. About 60 NGOs have called on Breton to drop his threats to use power to disconnect Europeans from problematic social media.

Rather than relying on platforms’ goodwill, the EU has chosen to organise the digital space with clear rights, obligations and safeguards.

He tried to justify his new powers by saying they were compatible with “freedom of expression.” His support for censorship drew attention to his growing influence in the EU – Thierry Breton is a contender for the Commission’s chairmanship for the next term.

“Similar to countries with less-than stellar human rights records, like Turkey in its most recent election, we could soon see the EU demand individuals be banned from Twitter under threat of heavy fines.”

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