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:
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.
Filed Under: broken, competition, don't wreck the net, eu, eu commission, innovation, intermediary liability, privacy, survey