The European Union’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted in favor of draft legislation that would overhaul Europe’s copyright rules. However, the concern from several Internet pioneers, civil liberties groups, and others who oppose the legislation fear that it will ultimately be a tool for surveillance and essentially wreck the web as we know it today, even though those favoring the legislation may have good intentions.
Lawmakers are trying to protect the interest of copyright holders. However, one of the provisions (Article 13) would require companies like Google to create an automatic filter for every piece of online content that is uploaded in the EU, to check the content for copyright violations. While that may sound good in theory, there are several downsides, including the cost of creating such a system and trying to maintain it. Even then, it would likely be easily thwarted.
The bigger issue, though, is how it could be used for nefarious purposes. In an open letter signed by 70 Internet experts, including Tim Berners-Lee, who created the world wide web, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, they said that Article 13 would be an “unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”
The letter also warned the damage Article 13 would cause to the Internet would be “hard to predict” but certainly “substantial.”
Article 13 is not the only part of the legislation that is controversial. So is a separate provision that would make Internet platforms pay publishers when showing a portion of text from a news story. The concern is that the tax would lead to far less sharing of news stories, and according to Green MEP Julia Reda, even holiday photos.
“I will challenge this outcome and request a vote in the European parliament next month,” Reda said. “We can still overturn this result and preserve the free Internet.”
There seems to be widespread opposition to the proposed legislation across various sectors. But as we’ve seen in the United States with net neutrality, that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t pass.
Top Image Source: Pixabay via geralt