In a connected world, our human rights are digital rights. Advances in information and communication technologies have created new opportunities for the protection of human rights and democracy, but also new challenges and threats, particularly in the areas of surveillance and freedom of expression.

The WePromise.eu campaign brought digital rights to the agenda of the European elections. And rightly so: The protection of rights and freedoms on the internet turned out to be one of the most important aspects for the legislative term 2014-2019.

The campaign re-invented the idea of an election promise. Rather than just asking candidates for the European Parliament to make a promise, voters also made a promise. Candidates promised to support a Charter of ten core digital rights principles. Voters promised to vote – for candidates who have, by election day, signed the Charter (download the Charter booklet). More information related to the campaign can be found here and here  and check out the interview with the journalist Glyn Moody.

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83 candidates who signed the Charter were elected Members of European Parliament (MEP) – they are your elected digital rights superheros.

A few notable votes that happened in the EU Parliament during this legislative term are closely linked to our Charter.

The PNR Directive – Air passenger surveillance

Vote Breakdown

460

For

173

Against

6

Abstain

112

Absent

On 14 April 2016, the European Parliament adopted a surveillance measure, the so-called “EU Passenger Name Record Directive”. The measure was fast-tracked following the terrorist attacks in Europe.

This Directive obliges airlines to hand EU countries their air passengers’ data to allegedly help the law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and serious crime. This requires a systematic collection, use and retention of data (travel dates, contact details,meal preferences and medical information, hotel bookings) on all air passengers flying in and out of the EU.

Only two MEPs (from the S&D group) that signed the WePromise Charter did not live up to their promise: “I will not support blanket, unchecked surveillance measures”.

The Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 on open internet access

The launch of the draft “Open Internet Access Regulation” in September 2013 was the start of a legislative process that was finalised in 2016.

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The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679

Data-hungry companies and governments, and poor technology designs continue to make our personal data and communications vulnerable.

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Towards 2019

While the European Union does not yet have new copyright rules, works for an update are underway in the EU Parliament. EDRi’s network is campaigning to remind MEPs of their Charter promise nr. 4 – which is to support easier access to culture by harmonising existing optional exceptions to copyright, mandating copyright exceptions for public institutions and not-for-profit entities, and ensuring that publicly-funded works are made available in the public domain.

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