9 March 2011 E-002212/2011 Question for written answer to the Commission Rule 117 Marietje Schaake (ALDE) Subject: Inquiry into role of European companies in violation of human rights Companies which provide information and communication technologies are increasingly under pressure from (repressive) governments to comply with domestic (regulatory) demands in order to be allowed to continue their business. Even if in clear violation of human rights, companies frequently meet these demands. During the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, information and communication technologies played a crucial role. Their use was blocked, thereby possibly aiding and abetting the government's violation of the freedom of expression, freedom of the press and access to information, and creating an environment in which human rights violations could go undocumented. European companies with a strong presence in Egypt, e.g. Vodafone and France Telecom have shown no constraint in supporting these objectionable tactics. I have called for an inquiry into the role of European companies in these human rights restrictions and violations (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbwYXZL5w8A). However my call for an inquiry has thus far been unanswered. 1. Does the High Representative agree that blocking and censoring information and communication technologies can contribute to violations of human rights? If not, why not? 2. Does the High Representative agree that the cooperation of European companies with governments in censoring and blocking communication and information technologies is also contributing to breaches of human rights and of the EU's core values? If not, why not? 3. Will the High Representative initiate an inquiry into the role played by European telecom companies in the violation of human rights, in particular in Egypt? If not, why not? 4. Does the High Representative agree that European companies might have acted differently if the EU had fully backed them in adhering to human rights and the EU's core values vis-à-vis these repressive governments? If not, why not? 5. Does the High Representative agree that the promotion and protection of freedom of communication and access to information, including on the Internet, should be an integral part of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy? If not, why not? Please find the answer here.