Text of the petition launched by Elise Lucet with the support of the collective “To Inform is not a Crime” :
Soon, journalists and their sources could be sued by companies if they reveal what these companies want to keep secret. Unless we react to defend the investigative work of journalists and, by extension, the right for citizen to be informed.
Under the alibi of the fight against industrial espionage, the European Parliament is preparing a new massive weapon against journalism, “trade secrets”, whose definition allows not less then an unprecedented censorship in Europe.
With the directive soon to be discussed in the European Parliament, any company can arbitrarily decide on whether information with economic worth should be published. In other words, with the directive “Trade Secrets” you would never had heard about the financial scandal Luxleaks, pesticides from Monsanto, or the Gardasil scandal … And many more.
As our job is to reveal information of public interest, it will be now impossible for us to inform you about whole areas of economic, social and political development of european countries. The TV show “Cash investigation”, but also other investigation show could certainly no longer be broadcasted.
With this bill, a judge seized by a company will become the editor in chief of our Nations, deciding what’s worth reporting. On the pretext of protecting the economic interests of businesses, it is a true legitimation of opacity that is being organised.
If a source or a journalist “violates” the “trade secrets”, colossal sums might be claimed by the holder of a so-called trade secrets, up to millions or even billions of euros, as they should be “commensurate to the prejudice suffered”. One could even attend imprisonment in some countries.
With such a financial threat, who will now accept to take so much risk? Which employee – for example would Anthoine Deltour who originally revealed the scandal Luxleaks – dare denounce a business malpractice? Sources will be the first victims of such a system, but there is not a word in the text to ensure their protection.
Text defenders say that they want to defend the economic interests of European companies, mainly small and medium ones. Surprisingly, among those who have been in contact early with the Commission on this project, are not small businesses but rather multinationals: Air Liquide, Alstom, DuPont, General Electric, Intel, Michelin, Nestle and Safran, among others.
These companies will use this new medium offered on a tray to pressure and prevent us from putting out some scandals …Given the Luxleaks news, we do should not tolerate our elected officials deciding on such a serious text concerning freedom of expression without any consultation with representatives of the press, whistleblowers and NGOs. Only industrial lobbies have been consulted.
We, journalists, refuse to only reprint press releases so that you, citizens, stay informed. And as George Orwell said: “Journalism is to publish what others would not want published: everything else is public relations.”
I therefore request, with all the signers below, the removal of this draconian directive. This is the time to mobilize ourselves to say no to censorship in Europe.