The internet is an exceptional tool and resource, which has
become an integral part of our daily lives.
Freedom of expression is a foundation of our democratic societies
and it is crucial to preserve it online, as elsewhere. However,
this must not lead us to trivialise online hate.
Hate speech, bullying, harassment, threats and stalking are
offences when committed offline. Their impact on their targets when
committed online is just as real and requires equally serious and
effective responses. Yet measures to combat such offences often
fail to capture both the specificities of online communications
and the extent of online hate – which targets people on grounds
as varied as their sex, colour, ethnicity, nationality, religion,
migration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, political
or other opinion, disability or other status.
Online hate is not just a private matter: it is a problem
for society as a whole. No one should be forced out of the conversation
by online hate. Member States must work to improve international
standards and strengthen both the content and the application of
their national laws in this field. They must convince internet intermediaries
to work harder to prevent and remove online hate. And they must
invest, sustainably and as a matter of urgency, in promoting the
responsible use of online technology and forums and in building
societies free of hate.