Portugal’s government will foster “political and legislative steps” to combat hate speech, incitement to violence and the processes of radicalisation on social networks during its presidency of the Council of the European Union, the minister for foreign affairs said on Monday (11 January).
“There is a very important element linking the issue of democracy with the issue of digital transition which is precisely the need to combat hate speech, incitement to violence, the processes of radicalisation which take place through social networks,” said the minister, Augusto Santos Silva, who is also a minister of state, number two to the prime minister. “There are several political and legislative steps that can be taken and we will stimulate these steps.”
Santos Silva, who was speaking at an online conference of presidents of COSAC (Conference of Specialised Bodies on European Union Parliamentary Affairs) organised from Portugal’s parliament, mentioned in particular “the beginning of the discussion of the Digital Services Act, which has a very important digital media regulation component.
“I am talking about the Digital Assembly that will take place in Lisbon and that we hope it will approve the Lisbon declaration on digital democracy with a purpose,” he said answer to representatives of the parliaments of the EU’s 27 member states, who attended the meeting by videoconference. “I speak of the line that is being well taken in the Justice and Home Affairs Council, namely against hate speech, and I speak …of the need for the EU to advance its digital strategy in the way that it knows how to …and which sets it so well apart from other blocs or countries, notably China.”
The minister stressed that the EU’s way of “going digital” in the economy, but also in public administration and public services, is “always mindful of the scrupulous respect for citizens’ rights [and] the need for digital transformation to take place within the framework of liberal democracies [such as in the EU] and “not to serve as an instrument for abuses of power by public authorities against citizens’ rights.”
Portugal began its fourth presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 January, which is to run through the first half of 2021 to 30 June, with the motto ‘Time to act: for a fair, green and digital recovery’. It took over from Germany and will hand over to Slovenia.