Dear EU Parliament: Why Are You About To Allow US Internet Companies To Decide What EU Citizens Can Say Online?

from the such-a-bizarre-thing dept

We’ve pointed this out over and over again with regards to all of the various attempts to “regulate” the internet giants of Google and Facebook: nearly every proposal put forth to date creates a regulatory regime that Google and Facebook can totally handle. Sure, they might find it to be a nuisance, but its well within the resources of both companies to handle whatever is thrown their way. However, most other companies are then totally fucked, because they simply cannot comply in any reasonable manner. And, yet, these proposals keep coming — and people keep celebrating them in the false belief that they will somehow “contain” the two internet giants, when the reality is that it will lock them in as the defacto dominant internet players, making it nearly impossible for upstarts and competitors to enter the market.

This seems particularly bizarre when we’re talking about the EU’s approach to copyright. As we’ve been discussing over the past few weeks, the EU Parliaments Legal Affairs Committee is about to vote on the EU Copyright Directive, that has some truly awful provisions in it — including Article 11’s link tax and Article 13’s mandatory filters. The rhetoric around both of these tends to focus on just how unfair it is that Google and Facebook have so much power, and are making so much money while legacy companies (news publishers for Article 11 and recording companies for Article 13) aren’t making as much as they used to.

But, as more and more people are starting to point out, if the Copyright Directive moves forward as is, it will only serve to lock in those two companies as the controllers of the internet. So why is it that the European Parliament seems hellbent on handing the internet over to American internet companies? In the link above, Cory Doctorow tries to parse out what the hell they’re thinking:

These proposals will make starting new internet companies effectively impossible — Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and the other US giants will be able to negotiate favourable rates and build out the infrastructure to comply with these proposals, but no one else will. The EU’s regional tech success stories — say, a successful Czech search competitor to Google — don’t have $60-100,000,000 lying around to build out their filters, and lack the leverage to extract favorable linking licenses from news sites.

If Articles 11 and 13 pass, American companies will be in charge of Europe’s conversations, deciding which photos and tweets and videos can be seen by the public, and who may speak.

In a (possibly paywalled) article over at Wired looking at the Copyright Directive, Docotorow is also quoted explaining just how massively this system will be abused for censorship of EU citizens:

“Because the directive does not provide penalties for abuse ? and because rightsholders will not tolerate delays between claiming copyright over a work and suppressing its public display ? it will be trivial to claim copyright over key works at key moments or use bots to claim copyrights on whole corpuses.

The nature of automated systems, particularly if powerful rightsholders insist that they default to initially blocking potentially copyrighted material and then releasing it if a complaint is made, would make it easy for griefers to use copyright claims over, for example, relevant Wikipedia articles on the eve of a Greek debt-default referendum or, more generally, public domain content such as the entirety of Wikipedia or the complete works of Shakespeare.

“Making these claims will be MUCH easier than sorting them out ? bots can use cloud providers all over the world to file claims, while companies like Automattic (WordPress) or Twitter, or even projects like Wikipedia, would have to marshall vast armies to sort through the claims and remove the bad ones ? and if they get it wrong and remove a legit copyright claim, they face unbelievable copyright liability.”

As we noted yesterday in highlighting a new paper looking at what happened when similar laws were implemented, the increase in censorship is not an idle threat or crying wolf. It happens. Frequently.

And, yet, we still have EU politicians and supporters of the Copyright Directive — while they complain about Google and Facebook’s power over the internet — turning around and pushing for plans that not only will lock in both of those companies as the dominant internet companies, but also forcing upon them the sole power to censor the speech of EU citizens. And they’re about to vote on this in just hours and don’t seem to have the first clue about what a dumb idea all of this is.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: facebook, google

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Dear EU Parliament: Why Are You About To Allow US Internet Companies To Decide What EU Citizens Can Say Online?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

‘don’t seem to have the first clue about what a dumb idea all of this is’

i dont think this is the right thing to be questioning. i think the right thing to be asking is what are these dumb fucks being paid for going down this road? why would any other country or group of countries want to screw themselves in favor of giving power to a country that is absolutely fuck all to do with the countries in question? it can only be for personal gain!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: frustration, self-induced

>> apparently TD never heard of Crony Capitalism or corruption in governments.

You see … in the imagined utopia of beneficent government rule, wise and noble government officials & regulators eternally protect the people from nasty greedy big corporations of all types. When these utopians observe just the opposite happening in the real world — they become greatly confused & exasperated; they just can’t accept that their understanding/model of how governments work — is wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Yeah, out_of_the_blue! After warning Google and pols are run by

Actually, Masnick is just understatedly celebrating the control that’s being given to Google and Facebook. He is NOT railing above about the control and that they should be cut down to size, now is he? NO. He’s just stating what’s to come.

Masnick is the one who STATES WITHOUT BEING AGAINST that corporations have a "First Amendment right" to control "platforms" even over YOUR, The Public’s right. — Masnick. NOT ME, Masnick.

By the way, that "AC" has the tone as usual of Timothy Geigner, aka "Dark Helmet", mixing his phrases: "passion of a DYING sun", eh? What does that even mean?

Zgaidin (profile) says:

Re: Opting Out

While the cynical part of me that likes to watch karma come back around a curb-stomp idiots approves of this idea, on the whole, I don’t think any of us would really like to see the internet so fractured. That is, however, the direction we’re headed in some ways. The suspicious, conspiracy theorist part of me thinks this may be the point since it was much harder to question your government’s narrative about what’s going on in the rest of the world when you couldn’t just hop on Reddit, Discord, Twitter, etc and ask people in other nations about it.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Exemplar

Brexit came from decades of the right-wing press drip-feeding anti-EU sentiment into the public consciousness, then issuing a call to arms.

Result: people I know look forward to seizing Britannia from the clutches of the Hooded Claw, I mean, the EU, not realising we’re so deeply embedded that we’ll tear ourselves apart in the process. As I always say, if you don’t know what Euratom is or have a plan to replace it, shut the hell up until you do.

Anonymous Coward says:

First how to stopt this you need to count the votes in the Legal Affairs Committee, not the plenary as a whole. This is where the vote on June 20 will be. The EPP, ECR, ALDE and ENF negotiators there are in favor of Article 13. Together, they have a 13 over 12 vote majority. And it’s not guaranteed that all of S&D will be unified against. So our job is to convince one of these MEPs. Here are some candidates that may be swayed: MEP Marinho e Pinto (ALDE, PT, PDR) Whoever is your local ALDE MEP, asking them to put pressure on Marinho e Pinto, who will vote “in their name”


MEP Angel Dzhambazki (ECR, BG, VMRO)


MEP Sajjad Karim (ECR, UK, Conservatives)


MEP Marie-Christine Boutonnet (ENF, FR, Front National)


MEP Gilles Lebreton (ENF, FR, Front National)


MEP Mary Honeyball (S&D, UK, Labour) – very pro copyright



Both of these votes will be tight, so weather you are pro or against you should contact your MEP representatives. Note that you can also contact other representatives and the presiding member of the party your representative is part of. Remind them that next EU elections are soon.

You can find your countries MEPs here:

You can find the full list of all MEPs here:



Reddit likes to spazm about directly elected EU representatives and having their voice heard. Here is your chance to do just that.

Everyone should tell there MEP to back the Reda compromise.

Michael Riendeau says:

They know what they are doing or have been paid off.

“And they’re about to vote on this in just hours and don’t seem to have the first clue about what a dumb idea all of this is”

Calling them dumb is too generous of an assignment. There is actual malice and corruption at work here. Governments hate the power the internet gives people and big corporations want to make a profit out of it. So what better way than to destroy the internet than making it luxury only for the rich and powerful.

This has been going on for decades. We are at the twilight of democracies and the free and open internet. Democracy has been sold out in both the U.S and E.U for crony capitalism and the internet is about to become a luxury for the 1%.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: They know what they are doing or have been paid off.

The internet is about to become a luxury for the 1% and we are not at the twilight of democracies and the free and open internet.

They will never be able to destroy the internet and if you want to stop this call your MEP.

Yet again the internet will never be a luxury only for the rich and powerful and it would be very hard for them to do that seeing 99% make up most of the internet.

Re:Re:Re: says:

Re: Re: Re: They know what they are doing or have been paid off.

Exactly. By turning the internet into a new form of cable tv, they will get to control the narrative while making a profit off of it. This is their plan. To kill off all the small free to use sites, while forcing big companies move their costs over to the users. It’s a capitalist version of 1984 where It’s power and wealth for the sake of power and wealth.

Michael Riendeau says:

Re: Re: Re:3 They know what they are doing or have been paid off.

Don’t underestimate the powers that be with their greed and corruption. They can and will at least try to turn the internet into cable, or just simply destroy it. They will do so by splitting the internet into fast lanes and slow lanes, forcing all websites to have censorship machines and forcing sites to get a licence from everyone to share links.

And what makes you think that we can win this? Ajit Pai ignored the people and now the The EU Parliament seems dead set on ignoring the people as well. Keep on fighting, but never underestimate the power of bribery. Democracy is dead if this thing passes. It will be symbolic of how the will of the people means nothing to those bribed by companies.

ECA (profile) says:


I have suggested that the internet is considered ANOTHER COUNTRY..
Part of this is because EACH NATION is trying to give the internet RULES/REGULATIONS/CONTROLS..that are totally strange.
How would you deal with all the rules of every nation put on your personally??
Confusing ISNT IT??

Who here thinks the USA is a TRULY open and safe nation?? RECENTLY??
I think we are no better off, then a 3rd world country. And its getting worse.

Anonymous Coward says:

boy called Peter lived with his parents in a village on the hillside. His parents, like most of the other people in the village, were sheep farmers. Everybody in the village took turns to look after the sheep, and when Peter was 10 years old, he was considered old enough to take his turn at shepherding.

But Peter was too easily bored, and he found it very tiresome being on the hillside with only sheep for company. So he’d find ways to amuse himself, running up rocks, climbing trees, chasing sheep, but nothing really kept him amused for very long. Then he hit upon a brilliant idea. He climbed to the top of the tallest tree, and started shouting towards the village: “Wolf! Wolf! Wooolf! Woohoolf!”

One of the villagers heard him, and got all the other men together, and armed with axes, hoes and forks, they ran out of the village to chase away the wolf and save their herd. Of course when they got there, they merely found Peter perched high up in his tree, laughing, and the sheep grazing peacefully. They were very annoyed with him. That night Peter got a spanking from his mother and was sent to bed without any supper.

For a while life went on again as normal, and people forgot about the incident. Peter managed to behave himself whenever it was his turn to mind the sheep. Until one day, he got really bored again. He picked up some sticks, and running through where the sheep were grazing, he started hitting the sticks together, and shouting: “Wolf! Wolf! Wooolf! Woohoolf! Woohoohoooolf!”

Sure enough, somebody in the village heard and before long the men all come running up the hill armed with their sticks and axes and hoes and shovels, ready to chase away the big bad wolf, and save their sheep and the poor shepherd boy. Imagine their consternation when they arrived in the field to see their herd grazing peacefully, and Peter sitting on a big rock, laughing uncontrollably.

That night Peter got a good telling off, an even better spanking from his mother, and was again sent to bed without any supper. For a few days people in the village went around moaning about Peter and his tricks, but before long things settled down again, and life resumed its normal uneventful course, and Peter had to do his turn at shepherding again every now and then. He decided he should behave himself, he really didn’t want to upset everybody all the time, and he especially didn’t want another one of his mother’s spankings!

Then, one afternoon when Peter was in the fields with the sheep, he noticed some of them were getting nervous, they started bleating and running hither and thither. Peter didn’t know what was the cause of this strange behaviour, sheep were running all over and making an ever louder racket. He got worried and decided to climb a tree so he could see what was going on. He balanced on a sturdy branch and looked around, what he saw almost made him fall out of the tree. There was a great big hairy wolf, chasing the sheep, biting at their legs, snapping at their tails. For a few seconds Peter was speechless. Then he started shouting: “Woolf! Woolof! Woohoohooloof!”

In the village an old man heard the shouting. “Oh no, not that Peter again”, he said, shaking his head. “What’s going on?” enquired another villager. “It’s that Peter again, he just can’t help himself”.

“That boy needs to be the centre of attention all the time”, said another. “Wait till his mother gets a hold of him”, added yet another. Nobody believed that this time there really was a wolf, and nobody got their hoe out, or their axe, or their shovel. All the sticks were left in the sheds and nobody rushed up the hillside. It wasn’t until very much later that afternoon, that the boy sent to take over the shepherding from Peter found dead sheep’s bodies strewn all over the hillside, and Peter still up there in his tree, whimpering, that the villagers found out there really had been a wolf this time.

At last Peter learnt his lesson, that if you always tell lies, people will eventually stop believing you; and then when you’re telling the truth for a change, when you really need them to believe you, they won’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

100 year prediction?

Two parties, the upper, the lower, the regulated internet, vs the no quite so good old unregulated internet (assuming the tech surpases the centralization of the internet, and new inventive tech that circumvents the attempts of control by its very nature and implementation, otherwise, i see the internet going the way of the tv and the newspapers, which will be a very stagnant and controlled future indeed

I dont expect it, but i wouldnt be surprised to see isp’s getting new tech competition in the gateway to the internet, aswell as the opposition trying to protect the control they seek

which would be a shame, new tech making the old obsolete, as some isp’s are’nt all that bad, and do speak up

Ill put my prediction on satelites, or something of that nature, passive tech, maybe as a means of viewing the internet only, but uploading, the very creation of the internet, the whole sum of its parts, i dont know

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That was not either implied consent nor implied support nor implied acceptance to you stupid spy agencies and your ethically challenged existence’s, as i just realised that you’d probably be the closest to achieving what i joked about

Chaos practitioners, wheres the happy agency, the one that researches the passive solutions to genuinely make peoples lives a happy existence, instead of the artificially created stresses of life that the actions of these practioners create……its not that your even trying to make a better future, its that your actively going the other damn way

Man the future is feeling bleak right now, with one thing after another…….

Writing on the wall doesnt look vague, damn thing has chapters

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »