Recordings in European Parliament

(Self) Censorship - New Challenges for Freedom of Expression in Europe

Julian Assange, Birgitta Jónsdóttir

What happens in European borders doesn’t just affect Europe. It’s used as justification for even more extreme forms of abuse around the rest of the world.”

Journalists, artists and publicists in Europe are increasingly confronted with censorship and self-censorship. Freedom of expression, as well as journalistic freedom is not automatic anymore. While the internet makes borders increasingly irrelevant, freedom of expression, online and offline, become even more relevant. In this panel discussion, Swedish artist Lars Vilks and Dutch author Naema Tahir share their personal experiences with freedom of expression in Europe. Professor Alastair Mullis, UK Defamation Law expert, Julian Assange from WikiLeaks and Birgitta Jonsdottir speak on the legal and political questions surrounding freedom of expression. The event was hosted by MEPs Marietje Schaake and Alexander Lambsdorff.

The first part of the panel covers personal experiences with freedom of expression in Europe with statements by Lars Vilks, Naema Tahir, and Flemming Rose.
Lars Vilk reports on the original intention of his Mohammed-cartoons that evoked world-wide protests among Muslims, and how he dealt with the subsequent threats to his life. Naema Tahir speaks about alternative strategies to introduce Western readings to Muslim immigrants and her personal findings on self-censorship as a balance between artistic value and political tool. In a video-statement, Flemming Rose reflects on whether citizens of a democracy should have the right “not to be offended”, and on the problems of context-loss in a globalized information society.

The second part addresses legal and political questions surrounding freedom of expression, featuring Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Julian Assange, and Alastair Mullis.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir explains the idea behind the the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative as well as the collective and legal process that enabled its adoption by the parliament. Julian Assange describes how abandoned alliances that guaranteed the protection of values from the European enlightenment are disappearing ever since the end of the cold war. He gives some concrete examples of British libel law cases that he judges as progressive realization of Orwellian horrors as depicted in 1984 and illuminates how secret state censorship blacklists, politically framed as mechanisms to combat child pornography, are functionalized to gag dissident voices. Alastair Mullis informs about the situation of libel law and “libel tourism” in the UK, comments on the debates around a reform of the English defamation law, and weighs up the right of freedom of speech against interests like reputation and privacy.


Originally published by ALDIS/ALDE at
Transcription by Nina Stuhldreher

Civil rights endangered in 2008 & 2009. Decisions in the European Parliament…

Eva Lichtenberger

MEP Eva Lichtenberger answers questions by Leo Findeisen about the dangers implied for civil rights in some of the upcoming decisions in the European Parliament in 2008 or the voting of June 2009. She outlines several issues that are partly interrelated and give rise for many concerns. These issues are the

  • Telecom-Package which still includes  passages that would allow for searching children’s iPods while checking in at the airport; the so-called
  • French Three-Strikes-model that would e.g. allow private persons, families and businesses to be cut off their internet access; and the
  • ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) process where a lack of transparency about what mandate the European Council has given its diplomats to elaborate – behind closed doors – on rigid laws to enforce intellectual property rights in all developed nations, e.g. by border officials or via online surveillance. 

She also discusses some historical developments that lead to the current state of the European Union, its institutions and the dialog with its citizens, about the motivations of Spanish and English MEPs to seek strong measures of surveillance because of their fear of new terror attacks, and some of the major changes European policy making is undergoing these years. 

Software Patents and the EU

Eva Lichtenberger

„Ja das war ein Lehrbeispiel für Lobbyismus in Brüssel.“

As a member of the European Parlament for the Austrian Green Party Eva Lichtenberger gives an introduction into the decision-making processes of the European Parliament and the political situation and state of discussion in Brussels when the debate about software patents reached new peaks in September 2004 and July 2005.

Understanding Software Patents

Hartmut Pilch

“My message to the patent world is: Either get back to the doctrines of forces of nature or face the elimination of your system.”

Hartmut Pilch of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) gives insights into the history of patent law, the theoretical shortcomings of the concept of software patents and their consequences.