Netherlands overruled by EU: freedom of speech still goes in the bin

A while ago, the EU launched a task force to combat “fake news” (meaning news that the establishment doesn’t want you to know about): EUvsDisinfo. Several publications from The Netherlands who were featured on the list, lodged complaints against EUvsDisinfo’s methods.

Right-wing blogs Geenstijl and The Post Online, and local newspaper De Gelderlander were all on the list for printing correct quotes, with content that apparently did not sit well with the EU’s Censorship Squad. This EU task force labeled actual news as fake news for expressing wrongthink. The publications garnered support in their fight against censorship from most of the Dutch parliament, and they were dropped from the list.

Internationally acclaimed research bureau the Rathenau Institute released a report stating that The Netherlands has hardly seen any influence or disinformation through the use of ‘fake news’, contrary to Dutch minister Kajsa Ollongren‘s earlier statements that ‘fake news’ was an enormous problem that demanded action from government. The Rathenau Institute is urging the Dutch government to call for EUvsDisinfo to be disbanded for the obvious threats it poses to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The institute adds however, that actually disbanding it is going to be difficult, if not impossible, as the EU will likely continue as it pleases.

The Dutch president of the EUvsDisinfo taskforce, Madeleine de Cock Buning, was supposed to advise the European Commission to stop the Censorship Squad, but in actuality got little further than some tepid criticisms and caveats about their activities. Stating “press freedom could become an issue if black lists of media were to be established. As regards the notion of “journalistic standards”, they should be set by practitioners and the media industry itself, not by others” is hardly good enough when the reality is that there are already media blacklists and many European (and other Western) governments are already regulating “the news” based on what they think best fits their agenda are “journalistic standards”.

Free speech is long dead. We can only hope to revive it.

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