The European Union is to consider implementing an effective ban on online anonymity, as well as on MEPs using so-called "hate speech". (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)


EU to consider banning anonymity online and MEPs from using ‘hate speech’


The European Union is to consider implementing a de facto ban on online anonymity, as well as prohibiting elected MEPs from using so-called “hate speech”.

Such prohibitions come as part of a package of measures drawn up by the bloc’s so-called “European Citizens’ Panel on Tackling Hatred in Society”, which has advocated for greater EU controls to be implemented across the bloc to prevent the spread of “hate and misinformation”.

According to the document outlining the panel’s recommendation, attempts to curb political speech in the EU would revolve around the establishment of an “independent Trust Committee”.

This would, in turn, create a “code of conduct” that MEPs would be required to follow. The committee would consist of “experts”, NGO officials and other alleged stakeholders.

This committee, the document added, would also be responsible for monitoring “misinformation” spread by those elected to the European Parliament.

“A Trust Committee, which monitors, tracks and develops the implementation of a code of conduct against hate speech, is necessary to protect individuals and communities from the harmful effects of hate speech,” the panel argued.

“By implementing and monitoring a Code of Conduct for trustful behaviour, greater transparency is assured.”

Speaking to Brussels Signal, Identity and Democracy Group MEP Tom Vandendriessche lambasted the panel’s recommendations, describing them as being a “thinly veiled attempt to control speech, expand government power, and enforce a leftist ideology”.

“The push to criminalise hate speech and use AI to moderate social media is nothing short of censorship. Who decides what constitutes ‘hate speech’?” he said.

“These measures are clearly aligned with leftist ideologies, designed to suppress Conservative viewpoints. Labelling legitimate criticism as ‘hate speech’ is a tactic to shut down opposition and control public discourse.

“We must reject these draconian measures and protect our democratic freedoms,” he concluded.

The Flemish parliamentarian also criticised other elements of the panel’s recommendations that appear designed to encroach on the privacy of individual voters.

Apart from banning EU officials from communicating anything deemed hateful, the panel endorsed passing a bloc-wide definition of what “illegal hate speech” entails to be partly enforced by Brussels.

To this end, the panel also argued that online anonymity should effectively be banned to prevent netizens from evading the rules.

“We recommend that anonymity online is regulated so that perpetrators of hate speech are better tracked, investigated, and held accountable by the appropriate authorities,” the panel wrote.

It also argued that each Member State should be forced to set up “identity authentication systems” for online users. Such systems, it says, would enable the “minimum necessary information to identify someone” online to be “collected through a government-managed portal”.

“This recommendation is important because there is a dramatic increase in hate speech, especially online,” the panel claimed.

“Regulating anonymity would make perpetrators of online hatred more easily identifiable and accountable.”

Other measures in the recommendations included establishing EU-run “National Offices for Combating Hate” in each Member State, as well as utilising artificial intelligence to scrape the internet for hate-speech content.

The European Commission has already welcomed the recommendations, with officials within the body said to be studying the document carefully.

“We are witnessing an ever-growing river of hateful messages, especially online,” Commission Vice President Věra Jourová said.

“In worse case scenarios, violent words can lead to violent actions.

“I welcome that the citizens, in the European Citizen Panel, have recognised the risks of hate speech and issued clear and ambitious recommendations to tackle hate speech,” she concluded.