Open Letter: No Internet Shutdowns under the Digital Services Act

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) is joining Access Now and over 60 civil society organisations from across the globe in demanding clarification on European Commissioner Thierry Breton’s recent statements suggesting that arbitrary blocking of online platforms could be enforced under the Digital Services Act (DSA).

Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition recorded 62 internet shutdowns during protests in 2022 — none of which were in the eu. This statistic must not change.

During protests, internet shutdowns and arbitrary blockings of social media put people in danger, are used to cover up human rights abuses, limit citizen rights, and can be weaponised by governments seeking to crack down on legitimate dissent. As it stands, the DSA considers such measures to be the ‘last resort’ – a fact that Breton’s comments contradict.

We call on Commissioner Breton and the European Commission to:

  • Clarify that the DSA does not permit shutting down online platforms as a sanction for failing to remove ‘hateful content,’ as implied by the comments. Further, overly broad interpretations of DSA by Member States must be prevented to avoid violating fundamental rights.
  • Assert that internet shutdowns and arbitrary blocking of online platforms violate human rights, especially in contexts where people are at risk of violence.
  • Ensure DSA measures have proper procedural safeguards and are proportionate.

Read the full open statement.


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