Join Internet Startups In Telling The EU Not To Mess Up The Internet

from the do-it-now dept

Join us in telling EU regulators not to wreck the net.
Read & sign our open letter »

We mentioned this a few weeks ago, but wanted to remind folks to help us tell the EU not to wreck the internet with a series of bad regulations. There you can see the letter that we put together, which has already been signed by a wide variety of internet companies, including Reddit, DuckDuckGo, Medium, Automattic, Patreon, Shapeways and more. The issue is a big deal right now. European bureaucrats (who couldn't even program a web survey to operate properly) are in the midst of putting together plans to regulate internet companies. This is under the umbrella of what they're referring to as the "Digital Single Market," but which some Commissioners are using as part of a plan to saddle the internet with a variety of new regulations, which have the potential to wipe out important safe harbors that made the internet what it is today.

Just a few months ago, a top EU Commissioner flat out said that the EU should heavily regulate the top internet companies, mainly because they're based in the US. What they don't seem to understand is that the companies they're targeting -- mainly Google and Facebook -- are big enough to deal with almost any of the regulations that come up. They have teams of people who can figure out how to manage them, even if they may grumble about it all. But the companies who cannot deal with such regulations will be basically everyone else. All of the smaller companies and new startups.

In effect, by "regulating" the big internet companies in an attempt to punish them, the EU Commission might actually be entrenching them as the dominant players in the market: the exact opposite of what they think they're doing. Similarly, some of the discussed regulations would again seem to contradict the stated or implicit intentions of those politicians. For example, many in the EU complain about the "privacy" implications of large internet platforms that are monitoring what their users are doing. Yet, a key regulatory proposal being discussed is adding a "duty of care" to internet companies, that will require them to more actively monitor what their users are doing, to make sure that they're not doing anything "bad" that needs to be stopped/taken down/reported on.

Given our concerns that this process appears dangerously misguided, we crafted a letter to send to the EU Commission that is reviewing this issue, and have now opened it up so that you (and/or your companies) can sign it too. Please take a look and consider signing on, and telling the EU not to wreck the internet, in a short-sighted focus on trying to hinder big internet players.

Join us in telling EU regulators not to wreck the net.
Read & sign our open letter »

Filed Under: digital single market, don't wreck the net, eu, eu commission, internet regulations, startups


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Mattheus (profile), 15 Mar 2016 @ 10:52am

    Working as intended

    Mike,

    Your observation that increased regulation will end up benefiting entrenched players is correct. What is incorrect, however, is to presume this is an unintended consequence of overzealous regulators who end up accomplishing the opposite of what they want.

    This is regulatory capture, plain and simple, and it operates in every industry that is enslaved by bureaucrats: pharmaceutical, media/entertainment, basically every sector of the economy is led by a few large firms who have successfully campaigned for more regulation to drown their competition (one reason WalMart supported the Affordable Care Act). It's political entrepreneurship, rent-seeking, whatever you want to call it, and it undermines free trade and the free expression of ideas that we have come to appreciate so much on the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 15 Mar 2016 @ 11:10am

      Re: Working as intended

      is to presume this is an unintended consequence of overzealous regulators who end up accomplishing the opposite of what they want.

      That's a valid point in many cases. However, having spoken to a variety of people involved in this consultation I *do not* think it's the case here. They legitimately think that they need to "stop" the big internet players, and basically just have not thought through the actual impact.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mattheus (profile), 15 Mar 2016 @ 1:54pm

        Re: Re: Working as intended

        It's difficult to determine in any case whether politicians are stupid or evil. The principle of charity requires us to assume the most charitable interpretation of any given position and, to that end, I applaud your conviction that they are simply misinformed. I am not so sure.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 15 Mar 2016 @ 11:24am

    death and taxes

    You have to remember that one of the biggest issues facing the EU is companies who play one country off against another in regards to taxation and other regulations, and generally thumb their noses at the locals. The backlash against all the dutch double Irish tax avoidance schemes and companies that have thousands of employees in a company but no regulatory or tax "presence" are giving governments fits.

    Much of the goal of one market style regulation is to make hiding in another country meaningless for taxation purposes.

    It's why Google can do more than 5 billion of ads sales in the UK, but have all of it's ad sale business "handled" in Ireland, so they don't pay tax in the UK. They do pretty much the same thing in every other EU country.

    Moves to control the internet in the end are moves to control income, jobs, and taxes. It may be one big EU, but the reality is that each country and each government wants to pull the blanket a little more to their side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Mar 2016 @ 8:55am

      Re: death and taxes

      That is entirely correct, and it's THE reason I am not in favour of "ever closer union." The UK and my native Ireland would end up as little provinces of the Franco-German Empire, which is what the EU would become in all but name.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2016 @ 11:39am

    ...It may be one big EU, but the reality is that each country and each government wants to pull the blanket a little more to their side...

    The US has the same issues with it's states and lower jurisdictions: if a transaction of any kind occurs within a jurisdictional boundry said jurisdiction wants some kind of sales or transaction tax. For many years even before the advent of internet purchasing mail & telephone orders were subject to sales taxes only in the jurisdiction(s) where the business was physically located. State has long argued that they're owed sales taxes on the premise that the customer would have bought anyway from a local business had mail &/or telephone ordering not existed. And yes that is not absolute; one might not buy at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous Dutch coward, 15 Mar 2016 @ 11:41am

    survey

    I filled in the whole survey and it was pretty obvious they already had their answers. The consultation is a joke.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.