Dutch coalition to EU court to un-block Russian sites
A Dutch coalition that champions press- and internet freedom wants the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to look at the European Union's block on Russian state media like RT and Sputnik. The group, which includes the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) and civil rights organization Bits of Freedom, filed a petition for this on Tuesday.
According to the Freedom of Information Coalition (FOIC), the European decision to censor these channels was taken "in haste." That happened a few days after Russia invaded Ukraine. There has been no independent and careful review, FOIC said. "This raises questions about our rule of law and what we stand for as a society."
"This was a political decision, without judicial review," said Rejo Zenger of Bits of Freedom. "The decision to make information inaccessible should not rest with our heads of government but with independent judges."
The organizations acknowledged that the Russian channels are not objective, and they do not support the content the channels distribute. But, said Thomas Bruning of the NVJ, "disinformation should not be combated with censorship in a constitutional state."
According to Anno Scholte ter Horst of Freedom Internet, the measure is also "at odds with the principle of net neutrality." That is the providers' legal obligation to treat all data traffic equally.
In addition to Freedom Internet, the internet providers A2B Internet and BIT are also members of the coalition. They are the plaintiffs in the case.