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John Dolva

EU External Freedom of Expression Policy

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Tuesday 15 April 2014, 13:00 GMT

Today WikiLeaks released the second Draft of EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Opinion and Expression Online and Offline, an instrument which sets how the EU is to treat these subjects and their priorities in the foreign policy of the European Union, for example, the EU response to censorship of TV stations in the Ukraine and certain aspects of US mass surveillance.

The Guidelines cover significant ground, including activating EU sanctions in response to "restrictions of freedom of expression".

The Guidelines were supposed to be released by the end of 2013, a deadline established by the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy - but were not.

The Guidelines fail to directly address the most serious threat to freedom of speech in Europe, the emerging public-private censorship model for financial censorship, surveillance and the arbitrary suspension or interruption of critical media infrastructure by foreign companies as seen in the WikiLeaks blockade.

The Guidelines validate data collection by indicating that "public security may justify the gathering of sensitive information".

The protection for whistleblowers and emerging forms of journalism is ambiguous.

Download the EU External Freedom of Expression Policy draft here

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