This Survey Sucks, And The Internet Needs You To Fill It Out

from the dont-wreck-the-net dept

Today, we’re launching a new initiative from our think-tank, The Copia Institute. The European Commission is holding a public consultation on new regulations for the internet, and the only way to send comments is through a painfully long and oblique online survey. Unfortunately, thanks to those five pages of small print and confusing questions, most people don’t seem to have realized just how big a deal this consultation is — and it only runs until December 30th.

The new regulations that are being considered include a long list of things that we’ve fought hard against here at Techdirt. In general, it all focuses on “intermediary liability” — the dismantling of safe harbors and creation of new regulations that hold online services accountable for the actions of their users. Apart from the obvious common sense objection that this is clearly putting the blame in the wrong place, we know it has all sorts of negative effects: it encourages services to spy on the actions of their users, it turns providers into de facto judges and squeezes out free speech safeguards like fair use, it leads to filtering and takedown systems that inevitably target lots of legitimate content… the list, as our readers know, goes on and on. We discussed the issue in detail last week on our podcast.

This isn’t just an issue for Europe. Currently, the EU’s rules around intermediary liability are largely in line with the safe harbor approach in the US, and changing this could impact every online service that has European users, everyone who wants to share content internationally or make use of services from the EU, and generally everyone who cares about innovation, privacy, competition and free speech on the global internet. So we’re asking everyone to brave the nightmarish online survey and speak up against these new regulations, and to help we’ve created the Don’t Wreck The Net campaign and survey survival guide. There we outline the core issues at stake, and offer some help orienting yourself in the survey and understanding what the bureaucratically-worded questions are getting at.

Again, it’s really important that people respond to this public consultation. Not only is the survey a pain, the details strongly indicate that the European Commission really wants to enact some new regulations — often, it only gives you space for additional comment when you are criticizing the existing framework, but not when you are defending it. You can bet that lots of folks from the copyright industries have submitted their responses, no doubt calling for robust new notice-and-staydown rules and proactive monitoring requirements. This can’t be the only message the Commission hears.

Open up the campaign page, make use of our resources, and tell EU lawmakers not to wreck the net »

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Comments on “This Survey Sucks, And The Internet Needs You To Fill It Out”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Keep asking the same questions until they get the answer they are looking for.

I remember that a few years ago they started asking a lot of consultations regarding changes on IPRED (the so-called IPRED2) and it was even worse than this one, as the consultation was about filtering, monitoring, DPI and 3-strikes schemes.

In the end, it ended up in nothing. Not sure if there was an outcry or not (I mean, a noticeable one), but those plans got scrapped.

This isn’t the first time they talk about changes to the IPRED. No idea if this is the “one” or not (it always looks like they are bent on changing something), but well, better not lower our guard.

Still, if the campaign against it is properly done (if possible, mix up the tax on hyperlinks with ISP/OSP police), the whole matter might turn pretty toxic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Keep asking the same questions until they get the answer they are looking for.

They did for far more important and fundamental questions, until they just said “Fuck it! Push it through.”
Remember the referendums on the “EU Constitution”? After a few bad results, they put it on hold, gave it a new name, some tweaks and just signed it anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

and when knife manufacturers get in trouble because someone used a knife as a weapon let me know.

We don’t want intermediary liability laws passed exactly because the Internet is not special. There shouldn’t be special intermediary liability imposed on the Internet just like they aren’t imposed elsewhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The problem is that the rules outside the Internet are corporate bought. Just look at 95+ year copy protection lengths and retroactive extensions. Look at the very existence of broadcasting monopolies into the hands of private interests. Look at regional cableco monopolies. Look at what the possibility of intermediary liability and a one sided penalty structure has done to restaurants and other venues that wish to host independent performers.

It’s not that the Internet is ‘special’. It’s that everything else is broken. It’s that everyone has seen what happens when corporations dictate laws outside the Internet and we don’t want them dictating laws for the Internet as well. In fact we want some of the bad laws that the corporations have managed to pass outside the Internet undone.

The problem is that corporate interests think they are special and that they should have more legislative influence than the public. They have subverted democracy by buying politicians through campaign contributions and revolving door favors to get what they want. but they’re not special. They should not be given special laws in exchange for buying politicians. and the special laws they have already managed to pass should be repealed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You seem to be obsessed over this assumption that everyone who disagrees with the overreaching effects of copyright law is a loser in his parents’ basement. Does it make you feel better? Unfortunately for you, reality paints a much different picture, and the more you push this sad agenda and parody of who you assume to be your enemies, more people become informed of your pathetic hypocrisy.

That One Guy (profile) says:

"We want to hear your opinion... so long as it matches ours."

Not only is the survey a pain, the details strongly indicate that the European Commission really wants to enact some new regulations — often, it only gives you space for additional comment when you are criticizing the existing framework, but not when you are defending it.

Makes perfect sense if you assume the primary purpose behind the survey is to gather support for what they already want, rather than actually polling the public for what it may want.

Socrates says:

Re: Re: Anonymous voting and polling

The notion that protesting destruction of anonymity requires sacrificing anonymity, is hardly a coincidence!

It is like a poll about registering ethnicity, that requires you to register name, ethnicity, and address.

The concerted effort to skew the results is seen elsewhere too. In Norwegian national broadcasting (NRK) news programs they have hammered the right to speak anonymously for a time now. And they have hammered the editors “duty” to censor third party comments. As NRK is a news provider the ferocity it fights for something that will hurt themselves is queer.

A high profile trial is also underway, attacking another Norwegian news media, for not censoring someone comparing questionable medical experiments with other questionable medical experiments in the past.

It is odd. And Norway isn’t even a member state.

Voting, and polling for future legislation must have robust anonymity! It is vital for a functional democracy.

Pronounce (profile) says:

Impact and Response by the Careless Public

I think the general populace of the world will go where the media leads them. To that end there are a few loud voices using recent dramatic events that play nicely into their hands. I suspect in time that evil/power will wrest control of the flow of information on the Internet from its user base. What I wonder about is how many lethal targetings, asset forfeitures, and midnight home raids it will take before the public realizes the costs.

I know from working in the public sector that the government really only goes after the powerless and isolated individuals. Because government bureaucracy breeds incompetence it sometimes happens that an individual with power, or person with powerful friends, gets targeted by the government’s programs. In those cases the government has to spend resources to make the problem go away. To minimize the chance that the government will target the wrong person they collect a lot of information on everyone (big or small).

Most public employees are good people, doing their jobs well, and at the same time pawns of the system and “blind to the workings” (mostly because they choose to be, btw). But if you ask these people if they know who has clout and who runs the agency they are quite aware of who calls the shots about who or what is targeted by the system.

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