EU's Own Survey On Internet Regulations Broken; Please Urge Them Not To Break The Internet Too

from the *sigh* dept

Last week, we wrote about an important survey put online by the EU Commission, asking for feedback on its plans to regulate certain key aspects of the internet. We noted that the survey itself was cumbersome and confusing, and because of that, via the Copia Institute, we set up our own guide to filling out the survey called Don’t Wreck The Net. We were a little mocking of the survey, as it does seem a bit silly that the people in charge of potentially putting all sorts of regulations on the internet… have a poorly designed and confusing survey (including the fact that depending on how you answer certain questions, the survey will appear quite different for you than it might for others). However, to some extent, we get it: government bureaucracies have some limitations on what technologies they can make use of.

Thankfully, many of you went to the Don’t Wreck the Net website and, from there, did complete the EU Commission’s survey. However we started receiving reports that after filling out this long and cumbersome survey, people were submitting it only to get the submission “rejected” with the following error message:

Worried about this, I reached out to the European Commission, and got back the following response, admitting that their survey had an absolutely ridiculous bug:

The problem comes from an incorrect address the participants are using. Please make sure that they use the following link:

https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/Platforms

It is very important that there is no slash (“/”) at the end of the link. Please inform your users and ask them to double check the address before clicking on Submit. As a workaround it is also possible to first click on “Save as draft” and then submit the survey afterwards.

We apologize for the problem. The bug will be fixed in the next version of EUSurvey.

We looked, and indeed, in some of our links, we included that trailing slash. But here’s the thing: SO DID THE EU. On its own official page about the survey, the only link on that page went to the URL with the slash on the end that breaks their own survey.

In other words, if you went to the EU’s own website and followed the only official link to the survey, and then filled it out and submitted it… you would get the error page.

I alerted the Commission to this and they have since fixed the link on their own website… but still.

First: it’s absolutely ridiculous that the survey would not work with the trailing slash. Second, it’s ridiculous that even though it would not work, it still displayed the survey and let people fill out the whole thing only to dump the results at the end. Third, it’s a complete travesty that they linked to this very same wrong link in their own consultation page, potentially leading many, many people to fill out this long and confusing survey and have the results dumped into the garbage can.

I’ve spoken to a few people at the EU Commission about this, and I get the feeling that they are (reasonably) embarrassed and apologetic about this, but they have not said anything publicly at all, nor have they publicly explained to people why their survey results may not have been submitted. I have asked if they would consider extending the survey a few more weeks, given this mistake on their own platform, but I have not heard a response yet.

All that is to say: as much as it pains me to tell you this, if you filled out the survey as requested last time, only to get a “forbidden” error at the end, please do so again using the proper links (and make sure you “save” your draft first). Multiple people at the EU Commission that I’ve spoken to insist that they really need and want to hear from as many voices on this as possible (and no, you don’t need to be European). They insist that they really do want to hear all sides, and don’t want to end up with policies that will create real problems for the internet. So it’s super important that you fill out their survey — which I hope is actually working now.

So, please, let the EU Commission know that they shouldn’t wreck the internet.

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Comments on “EU's Own Survey On Internet Regulations Broken; Please Urge Them Not To Break The Internet Too”

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12 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The surveys are used mostly for a statistical analysis and showing a few of the common suggestions posted. That analysis is dumped in as a bothersome extention to the report when it is pushed further in the system. In the past it was utterly ignored, but the bureaucrats are getting spanked for ignoring it today.

The individual answers are rarely on their own taken into consideration unless an angle is unique (Often crazy) – which is why the way the questions are generally verbosely formulated and described is more tendentious and potentially biasing than encouraging clever answers.

In short: While the commission hates canned answers with a passion and treats it like spam when they can get away with it; the way the surveys are treated makes canned answers the best answers for getting heard.

While the survey will be given the usual consideration, it is only really as a small summary report attached to the proposal. The way the system works, I doubt it will be very meaningful for politicians in general as the large majority never even reads the law before they vote and the politicians in charge of reading it for the parties are generally more interested in cherry-picking the right lobbyist opinions to form their opinions.

Anonymous Coward says:

like other surveys that have been done in the EU and, indeed, in the USA, nothing is more important than kissing ass of big business. it makes no difference what decisions are taken, they are not adhered to unless told by business. if there is a way to fuck things up for citizens it will be found and executed just to keep the already mega rich corporation heads in charge and able to stamp us into the crap!!

Delta says:

EU surveys are worthless at best, more than often counter-productive for anyone with an opinion on the matter being discussed.
I remember one that had a lot of people answer, not the way the commission wanted. The result ? Well, in essence, “since obviously, only people with knowledge of the matter answered it (well, others did not even know about it, obviously), it is not significative, because the european public as a whole would have answered differently.”
Tada !

Anonymous Coward says:

Access denied?

Huh. I completed the entire thing, saving drafts along the way, and when I clicked submit, I got “Access denied. The draft has already been submitted. You will be redirected automatically to the EUSurvey home page in [n] second(s).”

Hopefully that means it got submitted.

I turned on comments whenever possible, and used them to explain why their questions were broken (response options don’t actually answer the questions, etc.).

The last page of the survey was especially slapdash, with all the questions making leading assumptions that are for the most part incorrect, and can be interpreted to mean something or the opposite of that, depending on interpretation. It even had a “Which of these do you use?” with radio boxes instead of checkboxes for the answers. Luckily, there was an “other” option.

Morgan Wick (user link) says:

“Multiple people at the EU Commission that I’ve spoken to insist that they really need and want to hear from as many voices on this as possible (and no, you don’t need to be European). They insist that they really do want to hear all sides, and don’t want to end up with policies that will create real problems for the internet.”

Riiiiight. That’s why the survey is so confusing and no one mentioned how borked it was until now.

Loki says:

Well,you know, you have to at least pretend sometimes that you actually care about public opinion.

However, as hasoon been mentioned several times already, if you make the process as difficult and/or time consuming as possible most people will likely just give up eventually and they can use the lack of significant responses as “proof” that there is no real opposition and/or criticism of whatever agenda they might be trying to push.

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