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New EU law prescribes website blocking in the name of consumer protection (juliareda.eu)
227 points by cameronhowe 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 117 comments



I think this is the relevant paragraph in the document (page 27 in http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/commissions/imco/inag/...) linked from the article:

"3. Competent authorities shall have at least the following enforcement powers:

(e) where no other effective means are available to bring about the cessation or the prohibition of the infringement including by requesting a third party or other public authority to implement such measures, in order to prevent the risk of serious harm to the collective interests of consumers:

- to remove content or restrict access to an online interface or to order the explicit display of a warning to consumers when accessing the online interface;

- to order a hosting service provider to remove, disable or restrict the access to an online interface; or

- where appropriate, order domain registries or registrars to delete a fully qualified domain name and allow the competent authority concerned to register it;"

Seems similar to already existing measures against infringement of copyrights, except that thing about circumventing the courts, as Reda writes. Could this possibly mean websites such as Facebook could be blocked on the grounds of protecting consumers? The document defines 'widespread infringement' as

"(1) any act or omission contrary to Union laws that protect consumers' interests that harmed, harms, or is likely to harm the collective interests of consumers"


"risk of serious harm to the collective interests of consumers"

What a weaselly term. Bet they spent months trying to come up with something that didn't sound ridiculously biased/anti-consumer and that's the best they came up with. So obviously corrupt.


> So obviously corrupt

Sources please.

The EU isn't perfect... But this sounds a lot like an attempt to give consumer protection agencies the powers to block scam sites.

From what I could see Julia Reda (MEP - German Pirate) wasn't unhappy about the intents of this legislation. Merely concerned about:

A) Website blocking without judicial oversight

B) Existence of website blocking infrastructure

C) Inability to force compensations

D) No restitution of illicit profits

I suspect (B) is already a reality, but yeah, I'm no fan. I agree that (A) is concerning, but wording suggests this can ONLY be applied when "no other effective means" are available. As I understand it that implies it can only be used when the owner can be found, sued or prosecuted by other means.

I read that as this applies to faceless scam sites without an address or anyone willing to take responsibility.

As for (C) and (D) I would love to see more of that. But the idea in her blog post that illicit profits (B) could be used for found consumer protection agencies is not something I agree with.


But who decides what an "effective means" is, and which are available? Without judicial oversight, this seems rather easy to bypass.

I personally find filtering of any sort to be fundamentally wrong. A website is nothing but information, and find censoring/filtering to be wrong on counts of violating free speech and free access to information. I believe that illegal content should be handled by going after those that operate the site, rather than touching the distribution channel.


What if the persons operating the site are unknown or living in a country where what they are doing is not illegal? I don't support outright blocks or the specifics of this new legislation, but I think there are cases where the distribution channel is the right point to intervene; e.g. by displaying an interstitial "This site has been found to be a scam, don't give them your money. Do you want to continue anyway?".


I don't think "This site has been found to be a scam" should be done in the distribution channel, but rather like Google's safebrowsing initiative... Just, maybe not Google-operated.

To me, I think I would imagine a website doing something illegal to be more akin to a newspaper ad that sells something illegal. It's not illegal for me to bring a newspaper home from a country with ads about services that are legal where the newspaper is from, but illegal in my home-country. So, why should bringing the ad over digitally be any different?

The illegal may only occur once the service is ordered/used, and only so if it is illegal to be the recipient/import (sometimes things are illegal to sell, but legal to buy).


Please control your hyperbole a bit, or do you really oppose sunglasses on account of how they filter spectral information?


Ah, I'm sorry, I of course meant filtering of information from the public, not any personal filtering in a wider sense. I may have been wrong to expect that this was clear.

Feel free to wear sunglasses, welding helmets, use ad blockers ("content filter"), attach ND filters to your camera lenses, water filters to your water filtration systems, HEPA filters to air filtration systems, etc.


If we restrict filtering to DNS, so that it's easy to take the "sun glasses" off, then I kind of like it :)


But then an ISP might force all DNS queries through its own services, increasing the effort required...

And, changing your DNS server is easy to us, not easy to "common folks" who have no clue what DNS is.


> The EU isn't perfect... But this sounds a lot like an attempt to give consumer protection agencies the powers to block scam sites.

It sounds more like an attempt to give somebody powers to block potentially copyright infringing sites, under the pretense of consumer protection, through the roundabout justification that consumers "collectively" benefit from strict enforcement of copyright.


The copyright infringing sites can already be blocked, so this can't be about that. It seems likely to me that it's actually about consumer protection, unlike the existing copyright legislation.


Do you have any evidence to support your claims of corruption or are you just loud mouthing based on what you feel is true?

I ask because the EU already has the ability to block sites infringe on copyrights.

To me this law is one of the reactions taken to the fact that foreign powers are using completely faked news papers and social media pages to influence out elections.

Right now consumers have very little ammunition against companies like Facebook. In the EU we have the right to everything they’ve gathered on us and to demand they delete it, but if they went full retard we couldn’t legally block them.

Now we can.


As a European, I find both the ability to force others to not distribute information, and the ability for others to restrict my access certain types of sites to be a disgusting violation of free speech. I would expect this in a certain country in Asia, not in bloody Europe. Not only does it violate free speech, the new ability to perform website takedowns bypass proper law and order, by not leaving any ability to defend oneself in a proper court of law. A copyright infringement claim may be false, for example.

The ability to block content country-wide won't help reduce misinformation, which will always have ways to spread. What are we going to do, make it illegal to be uneducated, have unpopular opinions or be a bad person? Instead, this new power can easily be abused to stop the spread of real information, and unpopular (for example, government-opposing or religious) opinions.

The original ability to delete information is absurd in a similar way, but more limited, as only the subject can request it. Yet it still bypasses a proper trial, leaving it up to you and the service provider to conclude if the information was useful to the "general public". That's definitely going to result in deletion of valuable information.

If you want to give people a way to defend themselves against harmful information, give them the right to amend it instead. Deleting it is wrong. If you want to avoid fake news like you state, educate. Controlling people by removing information is wrong.


>Not only does it violate free speech, the new ability to perform website takedowns bypass proper law and order, by not leaving any ability to defend oneself in a proper court of law.

The law explicitly states itself to be a last measure when a court of law is not an option (ie, overseas or anonymous parties)

It is a last resort by consumer protection agencies when they can't use a court or the other party is unwilling to cooperate with their jurisdiction. That is not equivalent to "bypass proper law and order". It's enforcing it. That is the job of the CPA's.

>disgusting violation of free speech.

Yes but in some parts of Europe there is no Free Speech. Germany for example has Free Opinions, which is a narrower field of speech.


How is that going though?

People aren't vaccinating their children, bringing back deadly disease that were almost wiped out in western society.

A rising number of people believe the earth is flat.

Two of the mos popular pro-Brexit sources on social media turned out to be fake accounts run by Russia.

America elected Trump.

I mean, those things aren't great but at least they won't wipe us from existence. Unlike climate change, which an increasing number of people think is an act of God...

I don't like totalitarian approaches, but your approach to "freedom" is not only rapidly ending democracy and the free society, it's quite literally going to kill us all.


Wait, you advocate for a law that would grant citizens the right to rewrite server responses on the wire? Because the context here is action against sites where no physical or legal person associated with the site can be found within the EU, so its either blocking server responses or rewriting them in flight...


Free speech has never been absolute.


> To me this law is one of the reactions taken to the fact that foreign powers are using completely faked news papers and social media pages to influence out elections.

Then why not phrase it explicitly? For example:

For protection of citizens against online interfaces which either:

1. Consistently promote determinably false information with the intent to deceive on a mass scale;

OR

2. Attempt to profit through deception by false advertisement of goods or services.

Instead they create some vague, weasly language that can be used to basically block any service for any reason, so long as a group of EU citizens looked at it.


Do you realise what Chaos you are bringing up on us ?

Internet has always been full of shit. It's up to us to educate and teach people who are weak to this kind of behaviour.

Black List websites = Censorship.

Internet is not a product, it's our freedom.

To all people who try to "regulate" this, piss off.


I'm torn on this issue. On one hand american-style free speech where you can basically say anything you want as long as you don't target a specific individual is tempting. On the other hand you don't have to look very far online to find groups of people online who get in too deep into a web of lies, disinformation and confirmation bias that leads to some extremism with real world consequences.

This is especially a problem since it's very hard to limit access for the underage population who's a lot more prone to being influenced by extremist ideologies.

But of course the counterpoint is that this would create an infrastructure which could be abused to manipulate the population. I think there's a compromise to be found here but I don't know where to start.


As opposed to the orderly wold we live in now? I'm honestly done protecting the right to flat out lie and manipulate on the internet.

You may see that as an infringement on your free speech, but your approach to "freedom" is rapidly ending democracy in the free world. Keep in mind that the totalitarian voices you're using free speech to defend, won't show you the same curtesy, once they take over.


Amen.


Let me translate:

"business which we want to cultivate a protected local equivalent of"

China figured it out; the EU is just playing catch-up.


It's not the EU that benefits out of this, it's the US. The US owns all the copyrights.

In 10/20 years time if the US falls off its number 1 perch, this will law will be quietly dismantled and it'll be open season on our collective cultural heritage instead of pandering to the US's crazy protectionist copyright laws. It'll probably result in a golden age of culture in the EU instead of being ruthlessly oppressed by the US.

The irony being a lot of US "copyright" is based on EU folk tales and music they took with them and copied.


Jesus, there's no comparison there. Really, you think the EU is planning to build a firewall?


As if the ICANN compliance department don't already have enough on their plate squaring the circle over the WHOIS / GDPR / RA / RAA imbroglio. 'in with the good' 'out with the bad'


The EU is right on this matter however. (ICANN)


In the EU countries there are already blockades of some sites which allow people to access the links to the copyrighted content privately uploaded by some web users. Specifically, I know that providers get the court backed demands to block the sites, and they do that.

But if you consider, youtube is exactly the same kind of site, having the copyrighted content uploaded by some web users there since Youtube exists and -- nobody blocks Youtube. And Youtube even still profits from that content as it serves its own ads on it.

And do the biggest pay the taxes?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/05/04/google-pay-...

"Google will pay €306m (£259m) to settle a tax dispute in Italy and end a criminal investigation into whether it avoided paying the full amount on its revenues in the country for more than a decade."

Italy is just one of the EU lands.


Youtube has a company behind it that can be sued.

The sites blocked are typically things that nobody will take responsibility for.

Note: this law also says, "where no other effective means are available". Prosecution in court or civil law suites are certainly "effective means". But for some websites they are not available.


>and allow the competent authority concerned to register it

It's actually worse than 'blocking', they get control of the domain.


In some way the aim here might to counter cyber squatting...


> Competent authorities

Do such a beast even exist?


It's "competent" in the legal sense, i.e. the ones having jurisdiction over the matter. It doesn't imply anything about actual competence.


This feels like a fight we're going to lose eventually.

Proposals come up.. most fail. I admire those responsible for putting up resistance. But.. some succeed. Others partially succeed. Limited to stopping pedophilia, piracy, nazis... Those are bridgeheads.

The direction is monodirectional. Eighty six proposals can fail, but if the eighty seventh succeeds that's just as good. There is no going back. Win, good. Lose, try again. That kind of dynamic guarantees a certain result.


> The direction is monodirectional

The obvious tautology aside, I wouldn't agree with this in case of the EU (the US, probably.) To me, the EU feels more like two steps forward, one step back - this being the step back but, for example, the GDPR being the two steps (or leaps) forward.

In any case, this regulation seems more misguided rather than malicious. It's targeting real problems that have to be tackled but it does have the fault of granting overly broad powers to the respective institutions.


Tautology intended. :)

Misguided, malicious, bootlegger, baptist, real problems, fake ones... I don't think it matters much.

Norms are being established for regulating the web. The "proper channels" for seizing domains, ip blocking, de-indexing etc. There will be a number to call, forms to get stamped, enforcement.. These are growing around the world, at multiple levels of government. The EU is not an exception. Restrictions and censorship is growing at the EU and member state level.

I guess we disagree about the premise: when such channels exist (they basically do now) then they'll be used directly and indirectly in the same way their equivalents are used to regulate every other medium.

These thing are usually icebergs, mostly below the surface. China doesn't have to tell sites what to do most of the time, they "self regulate."


If you don't believe in the government being worth your trust, you either need to fix the government or go off grid: at the end of the day even the internet is still just people interacting, and where you have people you will have something like a government.

I know the days when only nerds like you knew about it and society at large neither knew nor needed it seem romantic now. But today the net matters to a lot of people, and they bring with them their trusted tools for defending their interests.

Go visit irc if you want those heady days where only things you didn't like where censored.


> the GDPR being the two steps (or leaps) forward.

> does have the fault of granting overly broad powers to the respective institutions.

You praise the GPDR in the same comment you lament overly broad powers. Surely the contradiction is clear? Maybe in your case, the fault is not the power but rather that you disagree with the specific uses? I wonder if politicians can differentiate between forms of internet restrictions as easily as we can.


>In any case, this regulation seems more misguided rather than malicious.

Intent isn't relevant at all - only result.


It's relevant if you're considering proposing an alternative. If you can achieve the same desired end result without hideous side effects, people might be receptive.


And relevant in how it'll be interpreted by the courts.


Which is a statement about the worthlessness of the legal system and not the worth of the legislation.


explain please?


How would you narrow down such powers?


D'you you prefer spam eggs bacon and spam, or bacon eggs spam and spam? I don’t like spam. :(

I don’t know much about narrowing powers, judicial reviews or any of that. I’m not all that concerned with the EU’s specific legal setup (even though I live here). I guess judicial review is better than none, but I think it’s probably rather meaningless long term. What judicial review means and how restrictive that is is completely unpredictable, across all the times and places this kind of norm will have influence.

I’m more worried about the norms. How those norms are evolving, in a wider context. In particular, how comfortable member states will feel taking actions (for example) like the Spanish government is currently taking. How easy will it be for non-eu governments (EG Turkey, Israel, Egypt..) to justify their own actions because “it’s an international norm.” How easy it will be to get Google, FB, AWS, ISPs, etc. to do any country's dirty work, because they will all have a “compliance” department responsible for this. The self regulation that will come from a need to avoid such hassles.

Framing this the way lawyers like to frame it, as if it were an isolated rule applying narrowly and in isolation means I already lose. My eggs come with spam.

The norm being established/advanced here is the same most of these laws in most the places are advancing (1) Unlawful websites are subject to sanction (2) To investigate lawfulness and enforce sanctions, authorities can force “third parties in the digital value chain” to cooperate.

IE, any service from DNS servers, search engines, ISPs, Twitter… every part of the internet needs to with every local, national and super-national government to police every other part of the internet.

10 years ago there were no channels for IP domain blacking/seizing/de-indexing. No templates for new rules. No ways for 3rd parties to be forced to cooperate. No way to regulate the web.


>10 years ago ... No way to regulate the web.

That's just false.

China had their FW since 1997 in various forms. In their very effective form since 2006.

And that's just China.

There was always pressure to censor/block/filter/control the Internet.

The norm is what people make it. The same goes for rules. And narrowness and so on.

Currently, people are dumbfuck dimwits, like they used to be. But the issues used to be simpler too. Communism bad, world war bad, etc.


I agree. The best outcome we can have is to stay pretty much where we are, or close to it. Its a bit like trying to stop a boulder from rolling down a hill.


> Limited to stopping pedophilia, piracy, nazis... Those are bridgeheads.

I don't know if I buy this slippery slope argument. Nazi memorabilia and glorification have been banned in France and Germany for more than 70 years now, and these countries have not yet descended into fascism and further impeding of free speech and other points that we usually hear from offended Americans who learn about this.


That's kind of a straw man, I feel. At least, somewhat unfair.

I didn't imply descent into fascism. I implied a descent into norms where the internet is more like TV or radio were. Historically, the web has been a uniquely free medium.

There is also a commercial dynamic side to this. Regulations and restrictions favour larger, stabler, more normative companies.

Also, I don't think slippery slope arguments lend too well to analogies. Some slopes are slipperier than others. ..and the overthrow of the Nazi regime was not a democratic one. It was a violent one. All the methods were not part of normative politics. Banning Nazism was a part of that overthrow. What the shelling of Berlin a slippery slope?

That said, i think the ban should have been lifted by later generations, a symbolic nod to freedom of speech and association. If even Nazis in France get free speech, it's a sign that those freedoms are strong.


I don't think the internet has been a uniquely free medium, they all start out unregulated after all. It has been the most unregulated medium recently, this is true, but also a nearly vacuous statement since its the only really new medium for mass communication recently.

And anyway posted letters are still a very free medium, with better privacy assurances than email ever had.


Not yet, but if something doesn't change dramatically in the EU the countries you mentioned are on their way extremism (AfD, LePen)


The AfD has no real power in Germany. They may have swayed a few votes but in one or two legislation periods their voter base will have been quietly absorbed into the establishment (CDU and SPD) or the opposition (Greens, The Left) or the parties nobody likes (FDP).

Basically none of the other parties in the government want to even consider cooperating with them, it'll fizzle out soon enough.


Is becoming the third largest party in Germany after the 2017 federal election and getting 94 seats in the Bundestag suggestive of fizzling out? In the Netherlands, no one wants to cooperate with Wilders' Party either but in the recent election it became the second-largest party in the House of Representatives. 'Forget about it, they'll go away' is maybe the triumph of hope over experience.


I see them being this big as positive in that it forces the remaining parties to finally figure out how to properly cooperate, as the CDU/SPD is a very unlikely coalition considering the last legislation period.

The current Jamaika Coalition has basically put everyone in panic because for the first time in forever the major parties can't just vote what they want into parliament via coalition contracts.

The AfD will be reabsorbed, don't worry about that, that's how it has worked the last couple decades. And in the meanwhile they can exert some healthy pressure on the rest of the Bundestag to get a bit of fresh air in there.


It's cute how you classify the Greens as opposition, and how you describe a party that just got 10.75% of the national vote two months ago as being liked by nobody.


The greens always oppose anything sane, hence opposition.

I haven't yet anybody who likes the FDP, hence nobody likes them.

But I'm Bavarian so I might have a huge sampling bias thanks to us being 60%+ on the CSU.


I haven't met anybody who likes the FDP either, but I'm conscious of that resulting from my social circle (which is heavily left-leaning). The poll results beat a single person's anecdata everytime.


Before the Nazi Party came to power, it took part on several elections: 6.4% and 3% in 1924, 2.6% in 1928, 18% in 1930, and 37% and 33% in 1932 (came 1st) and 44% in 1933.

A party doesn't come out of nowhere. It takes time. In 2013 AfD missed the 5%, but not by much. In 2017 has 13% and is the third largest party in Germany. Saying that it'll fizzle out soon is naive at best.


Are you arguing that banning Nazi memorabilia is leading to the rise of far-right parties?

I think these two things are completely disconnected from each other. What we're talking about here is legislation, and legislation has not slipped towards censoring free speech more and more in the last seventy years (in France and Germany).


> Are you arguing that banning Nazi memorabilia is leading to the rise of far-right parties?

No I'm not. Your statement is so far off that I can't help myself but wonder how did you arrive to this conclusion?!


Because if those things are disconnected, then your own comment was apparently off-topic. You posted a comment about the rise of far-right parties as an answer to one about the slippery slope of censorship.


> There is no going back.

Why not. Bad laws should be repealed.


What should happen is irrelevant to the conversation. We’re talking about what WOULD happen.


That assumption of inevitability is self-fulfilling. Things would be a lot different if everyone who pessimistically disengages instead tried to use the democratic process.


Should we perhaps try to get the "cookie law" fixed :)


Yes: if the politicians never hear about things like that they're going to assume nobody dislikes it very much.


This is the EU, bad laws do get repealed, for example, the data retention directive was annulled for violating fundamental rights of privacy. It's not completely eradicated from national laws yet in every country but it's on its way.


Can you name one instance where overly authoritarian laws were repealed peacefully?


The German data retention law was quite peacefully dismantled by our supreme court equivalent.


Every battle they win their battle chest grows. Every battle we win we get more complacent and tired of it all.


Exactly.


That's called a ratchet.


> The direction is monodirectional. Eighty six proposals can fail, but ...

This kind of thing is true in every domain of legislation and regulation. Indeed wherever officials have wielded power since the before the building of Babylon. And yet the world has not, in the large scale, been on a march towards ever more tyranny. How is that?

I don't fully understand the process by which freedom has increased in most countries through history but it does exist. So it makes sense for people of good will to think, and discuss and act so as to help it along.


Freedom exists because, for a while anyway, freedom was more effective at increasing the wealth and power of nations.

This video has a great outline: http://www.cgpgrey.com/blog/rules-for-rulers


I’m not trying to have a discussion about “Freedom or Tyranny” in the abstract, or thousand year trends. I’m not sure those words even mean anything.


That assumes advocates for end-user rights are always on the defensive. Why can't laws be debated and passed that enhance privacy?


Putting in jail legislators who make evil laws should be a good starting point. What's evil will be defined later. The point is that there must be a serious incentive in thinking before making laws, this stuff affects everyone, if you want to do it you must be willing to pay a price when you act evil like the EU thugs are doing recently. Am I really so naive if I ask to protect freedom of speech with some better incentive than a paragraph on a constitution that says "plz don't do it"? Really demotivated.


Whenever I see news like this I think of John Gilmore's quote, "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." Perhaps decisions like this will hasten a move toward a decentralized and an encrypted Net where politicians and their corporate sponsors have far less influence.


Maybe but as long as they leave the mainstream porn sites alone I don't think it'll speed it up that much.


The thing I find disconcerting is that the most recent numbers I could find put about 30% of people as using adblockers. Installing an adblocker takes about 10 seconds and a single click to yield a vastly improved internet experience.

The masses move like molasses.

When you build a decentralized system it's going to immediately be organically populated by the least desirable demographics in existence. And those demographics can then be used to demonize the system itself. This seems to be a major burden to uptake unless the 'main net' becomes rapidly castrated - but that will never happen. Changes happen slowly and incrementally and like the anecdote of a frog boiling in water - people just don't notice.


That's a nice thought, but I think we're beyond that stage. The web is a lot more centralised today. Google and FB aren't routing around government restrictions in 2019, not the EU's, Turkey's... They may actively object on certain one sided moral issues (eg anti-gay) stuff, but they'll do what's legal or advisable in most cases. They're being normative companies.

Ultimately regulations tend to favour large incumbents.


This has been going on for a while but all the way down to the web host it seems like companies are on board with this stuff. I've found that terms of service for web hosting companies generally includes a clause that specifies one of your users harassing another one of your users.

As if you can prevent that as a website owner. Especially since such a thing would be totally subjective to judge. What it means is they are purposefully giving themselves any reason at all to shut off your site.

I asked one of them about it, I got directed to their legal department. I asked the legal department about the clause and they told me to look for hosting elsewhere given what they assumed was the way in which I conduct myself on the internet.

There is no legal reason. They just want to control information.


You people definetly should fight this.

We had something like this under "ban pedo" umbrella, now this thing filter anything that is against the party rule


> now this thing filter anything that is against the party rule

Explain, did you read the text?


I'm against this ... unless they block Facebook :)


I realize you are joking to some extent, but if we are to demand net neutrality, we must be willing to enforce it even against our own motives. Facebook as a website shouldn't be treated any different than any other website. Of course we can legally attack Facebook from other angles like its nefarious business practices.


The sad truth (and missing detail) is that most EU countries already have national laws that allow extra-judicial bodies request ISPs to block websites at the DNS/IP level with minimal oversight.

A DB of such requests, limited to Italy: https://censura.bofh.it/


We must realise that there is nothing like "rights". There is only what we can secure for ourself, by way of voting or by way of revolution. You must fight for your rights, always. The moment people start thinking that their rights are inalienable, government starts eroding them.


Man am I naive. I read the title as the EU wanting to provide a way to block web sites that do things like track consumers.


Technically that could be a fallout.

With the upcoming ePrivacy/GDPR in the EU, if you as a consumer sent a DNT header or disagree with being tracked, you can notify anyone doing so and they are under EU law required to delete your data and/or stop tracking you.

If they don't... well the nearest consumer protection office will be interested and they'll probably then follow up with blocking the website EU wide.

So in conclusion; yes this can be used against anyone who tracks you on the internet against your will since the EU law will make that illegal in the future and this law is a broadside against anyone trying to ignore EU law.


You can block those at your router anyway, no need for legislation that does it "for us" without judicial oversight. Or have the domains blacklisted and redirected to localhost by your DNS cache. We could build public DNS blocking caches just like RBLs used for mail to make this even easier.


No, it looks more to do with blocking scamming sites.

"where no other effective means are available", hence, sites with representation in the EU, or owners who can be extradited to the EU, doesn't seem to be at risk.


I don't think that use is specifically excluded.


This is horrible


I tend to agree: "There is something bigger brewing here. Something much bigger. This is one to keep on the radar."

https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/blog/2017/11/european-...


This is great. Companies will now have to deal with this, along with the General Data Protection Regulation (which is a huge fine if in non-compliance)

It's a lot of friction and hoops to go through, especially for smaller companies, to do business that reaches into the EU (directly or indirectly) with these regulations.


Consumer protection is a bad thing?


Nope! We should also ban steak because babies have a hard time eating it.


Only if it actually protects consumers instead of national interests.

In the EU 'consumer protection' is the guise of protecting suppliers. For example, protecting consumers from Buffalo Mozzarella means that only 4 regions of Italy may produce it (via the Protected designation of origin scheme) (it doesn't matter if the recipe/methods are correct). This way the consumer is 'protected' from being sold Buffalo Mozzarella from regions that can produce it cheaper.

This method seems to be a way to force compliance online. The EU is great but their digital initiatives are always examples of overreach. Last time it was those ridiculous cookie notices you see on websites notifying you that the website uses cookies.


Anybody anywhere can produce Buffalo Mozzarella. The protected term in the EU is "Mozzarella di Bufala Campana" which has the region already in it's name. The scheme has been introduced as trademarks protection of such terms that often have been associated with a specific region for centuries is not possible. It's really no different than regular trademarks for modern brands. Historically those schemes were introduced over a hundred years ago after faked products misled consumers. It's also a weaker interference in the free market than copyright protection: Anybody can start producing Mozzarella di Bufala Campana in the region while the rights to Kraft Cheese belong to a single company.

Producing a product the cheapest way possible is not the end goal. If those cheap products drive the traditional way out of the market (as consumers have no reliable way of distinguishing products) consumers that specifically want the product from that region are harmed. All others can buy generic Buffalo Mozzarella produced anywhere just fine.


"than copyright protection" should read "than trademark protection", sorry.


"website blocking infrastructure"

Uhm we've had that for a long time, it is how sites with CP and other illegal things are dealt with.


So this is how democracy dies.


I read "prescribes" in the title as "proscribes." There's an argument for that too.


>To give a recent example, independence-related websites were blocked in Catalunya just weeks ago.

That required judicial authorisation. Good way of beginning a post, with a lie.


I don't see how the fact that it required judicial authorization contradicts what the author said. Many abuses happen with the full backing of courts.


We should abolish prisons then? It's a ridiculous argument. Abuses can happen with full backing of the courts, but I expect them to not happen.

In all the years that this system has been in place in Spain I have never seen it used for anything other than blocking websites that were in breach of the law.


Wait, what? How do you get abolishing prisons out of that?

Back to the subject, what if a law is bad, but the mere act of saying publicly that the law is bad is, in itself, breaking the law? That's where this is all heading.

It starts with prohibiting the utterance of specific words because they hurt someone's feelings, but hidden under "consumer safety" or "public order." No one speaks against it because "of course we shouldn't hurt the feelings of others with mean words."


So what? We have hate speech laws in Europe. Try saying "the holocaust never happened" or "homosexuals are vile creatures" and you will see what can happen to you. There's no free speech in Europe anyway.


The point wasn't that it was extrajudicial, she was just demonstrating that a tool instituted "for consumer protection" can, once implemented, easily be used for democratic suppression or censorship.


They didn't say it was blocked using this proposal. Just that it was expedited through website blocking infrastructure that was put in place for other purposes.


I think the argument runs something like this:

P1. Infra A exists. P2. Infra A has been abused. C1. If we build infra A, it can be abused.

P3. Abuse is bad. P4. This proposal proposes that we build infra A. P5. A proposal to build something that can be abused is bad. C2. A proposal to build infra A is bad.

That's all fine. It's all fine, except P1 still stands even at the time we reach C2. The infrastructure already exists. So the argument sounds funny. Not unsound, but somewhat unconvincing.

It's a much better argument for the proposition that we should dismantle the infrastructure, than that we shouldn't make additional legitimate use of the infrastructure.


>That required judicial authorisation.

I can't find a source on this. Do you have one?


This can be used to shut down services like Bitcoin, can't it?


I don't see the relevance of Ms Reda's example of Catalonian domains being taken down. Using such an example seems more like a scare tactic than anything else.

The EU law she discusses seems clearly focused on (e-)commerce, and it instructs the government to have websites taken down only when that's the only way to protect consumers from being harmed (e.g. defrauded) by those websites.

News websites, even those encouraging people to show up to illegal referenda, don't appear to be affected by this law?


The relevance is direct - while the argument may be about some specific case, the power given does not have any limitations to this case, except vague requirement to serve "collective interest" of consumers, whatever that could be. It also builds the legal framework for extrajudicial control over the content on the Internet, which means the government may now control speech in order to serve "collective interest" of the consumers, which will inevitably be defined by the government itself, in a self-serving manner. This opens wide potential for abuse, and a stepping stone for implementing other extra-judicial limits on speech - if it's ok to protect consumer from fake watches, why not from fake news? Why not from "bad" viewpoints and "harmful" information? Thus the government gets full control over the online speech, for your own good, of course.

An example of how that happens and why it is dangerous is the Catalan domains story. The Spanish government is obviously trying to limit speech which is not in its interests.




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