EU Votes To Censor the Internet

This isn’t going to end well:

This morning, the EU’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted in favor of the legislation, called the Copyright Directive. Although most of the directive simply updates technical language for copyright law in the age of the internet, it includes two highly controversial provisions. These are Article 11, a “link tax,” which would force online platforms like Facebook and Google to buy licenses from media companies before linking to their stories; and Article 13, an “upload filter,” which would require that everything uploaded online in the EU is checked for copyright infringement. (Think of it like YouTube’s Content ID system but for the whole internet.)

EU lawmakers critical of the legislation say these Articles may have been proposed with good intentions — like protecting copyright owners — but are vaguely worded and ripe for abuse. “The methods to address the issue are catastrophic and will hurt the people they want to protect,” Green MEP Julia Reda told journalists earlier this week. After this morning’s vote, Reda told The Verge: “It’s a sad day for the internet … but the fight is not over yet.”

Both Article 11 and Article 13 were approved by the JURI committee this morning but won’t become official legislation until passed by the entire European Parliament in a plenary vote. There’s no definite timetable for when such a vote might take place, but it would likely happen sometime between December of this year and the first half of 2019.

“Vaguely worded and ripe for abuse.” Music to a bureaucrat’s ears!

Both those provisions fly in the face basic structure of the Internet, where linking is free and censorship is damage to be routed around. And make no mistake, once they have an “upload filter” in place, there’s no way it will be limited to “copyright infringement.” Expect them to start by censoring “hate speech” (such as videos critical of unassimilated Muslim immigration into Europe) and anything else sufficiently critical of sacred European goals. Calls for Italy to quit the Euro? Sorry, those have to be banned in the interest of “economic stability.”

Set aside, for now, the impossibility of implementing this for all but the biggest sites in Europe, much less the world. Merely attempting it would no doubt do a lot of damange and have that fabled “chilling effect” on free speech.

Let’s hope this legislation gets killed by Eurocratic inertia…

(Hat tip: Slashdot.)

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