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EU censorship machines and link tax laws are nearing the finish line (juliareda.eu)
305 points by walterbell 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 206 comments



I had not realized that this insane bit with an inalienable right to monetary remuneration had made it to the drafts. We already know from the past cases that if given the choices between paying for the privilege of linking vs. not linking at all, search engines and social networks will do the latter. The economic value of e.g. news searches must be miniscule.

But maybe there is a little bit of value there, even if not a ton. So one can maybe imagine a Google or a Facebook signing a deal with a couple of publishers per country. It's just that the marginal utility of additional publications will go down very quickly. Most publications will a) not get paid for the links, since they're not linked to b) not get any traffic, and lose a large chunk of their ad revenue as well.

It absolutely boggles the mind that anyone would think this is a good idea. Unless they're a top 2 media conglomerate of an European country, and would like for all their weaker competitors to be killed off.


I can imagine websites refusing to link and instead displays the URL so the user can enter it themselves.

A lot of new companies will pop up offering their LINKTAX compliant packages that offer automatic downgrading of off-site links to user-selectable link fields, some even with custom functionality to automatically place the link in the clipboard.

Tech savvy users will use adblockers to disable this auto-delinking script.

All uploads will go through the few behemoths of media that can implement the upload filtering, like YouTube.

User uploaded profile images will be substituted for generated images by the website.

Uploaded text content such as comments will be disabled for all but the websites that live off them. Get used to seeing "Your comment is not currently visible, but awaiting moderation".

What a miserable, sad web...


It's not the link that's being taxed, but the short excerpt that's being displayed. If a website writes its own summary instead of taking a snippet directly from the article, there shouldn't be any fee.


Those auto-summary bots on reddit are suddenly a hot commodity.


Isn't that what the meta description is for?


Recent advances in DL for NLP will easily be able to help with it. Just rephrasing, nothing fancy. Though, I am not sure whether it will be considered non excerpt or whether EU will introduce new laws to work this around.


>Unless they're a top 2 media conglomerate of an European country, and would like for all their weaker competitors to be killed off.

You'll be accused to be a conspiracy theorist. Is that legal in the EU still?


You mean is it legal to "think this is a good idea"?


Yeah, it's absurd.

> Unless they're a top 2 media conglomerate of an European country, and would like for all their weaker competitors to be killed off.

Maybe that's the idea, but I think it's shooting yourself in the foot, even then.


It's even worse. Everyone who you link to has the right to claim damages(in case they are press). So you will have to be careful who you link to since a single link could already fall into the new legislation depending on the member state.


Does anyone know how this "press" is defined in the proposal?

More and more legal entities (governments, companies,...) seem to be moving to actively blurring lines so as to induce fines and damages. Suppose instead the proposal mandated any content hoster (press or not) to include a <linktax> tag so that hosting software can be configured to suppress the inclusion of links to pages that contain the tag.

Without such an explicit tag, the situation will end up similar to ad blockers, with random distributed lists of sources that would probably qualify as "press"


In the Commission proposal: "‘press publication’ means a fixation of a collection of literary works of a journalistic nature, which may also comprise other works or subject-matter and constitutes an individual item within a periodical or regularly-updated publication under a single title, such as a newspaper or a general or special interest magazine, having the purpose of providing information related to news or other topics and published in any media under the initiative, editorial responsibility and control of a service provider."


Thank you very much for looking it up!

The 'definition' is exactly as vague as I feared it to be:

Consider a blog, one could easily argue that it is a (samizdat) press publication, the blog has a name or title, is regularly updated, provides information to news or other topics and is published as a medium (everything on the web is published in the medium of HTML, PDF, ...) under the initiative, editorial responsibility and control of the "service provider" of whomever maintains the blog.

The same can be argued for any website, forum, government webpage (so we can't even safely link to government pages without exposing oneself to the risk of a fine!)

If the goal was not to expose normal daily citizen activity to the risk of fines, then they should simply require "press publications" to self-declare themselves to be such by means of a <linktax> tag, or perhaps even better, by having those providers who WISH to be freely linked to provide a <linkpermission> tag containing a cryptographic signature endorsing free circulation, such that upload filters can verify without users having to rely on decentralized lists of educated guesses of who would or would not sue for linking freely...


I don't quite get this, the problem is not with linking, but the link previews.


It seems pretty clear that the intent is for this to cover the current linking/snippeting practices. If it wasn't covered, there is no chance of this law providing publishers a new revenue stream.

And what are those current practices? On Google News it appears to literally be just the title and maybe a tiny thumbnail image. On search it's those plus less than a sentence of text. It's pretty hard to see the intent here as not covering even just a link that uses the original title.

Links that can't even use the original title would be totally nonviable, they might as well not exist. And again, this proposal would disallow even an opt-in arrangement.


Maybe the problem is that most of the articles nowadays could be shortened to just a few sentences as the rest of the body is just a filler and people just don't want to waste time going to the linked sites to ingest it?


What about HN, which is a link + title?


This would absolutely apply to sites like HN or Reddit. Of course sites outsite EU jurisdiction aren't required to follow EU law, but may eventually find themselves ordered blocked by European ISPs if they don't.


It's absolutely insane that freebooting [1] on Facebook was allowed to persist for so long. It's easy to see the right to monetary remuneration as a method of addressing a massive loophole exploited by Facebook and certain users for years.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6A1Lt0kvMA


[flagged]


I don't necessarily agree but the immediate downvotes anyone receives for questioning the EU's pure intentions is interesting.

People are either extremely trusting of huge global governments or we're being brigaded.


I didn't downvote, but the part I object to is the socialist moniker, not the questioning of their motives.


[flagged]


There’s no karma level that allows users to downvote articles according to the unofficial hackernews faq. It’s possible that the admins downweight the articles because politics in general is frowned upon?

I don’t think you really have much proof on pro-EU state sponsored sock puppets... but a more detailed analysis would be interesting!


I am talking about comments. Of course I can be wrong about this situation since it's basically gut feeling and perceptions. Still, aside from the votes, there have been some really weird comments in this thread too, something that just doesn't feel it can align with how a programmer or entreprenur would express himself. Sorry if I'm sharing my emotions.


You're underestimating the range of opinion in this community and breaking the site guidelines by insinuating that it's astroturfing instead of people posting in good faith. We don't allow such insinuation here because it's the fastest way for an internet discussion to poison itself. You're not the only one doing it—this poison has unfortunately been all over the place lately with the spats about GDPR.

All: please (re-)read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html, assume good faith, and keep these off-topic insinuations far away from HN in the future.


I feel it's a ludicrous idea that EU would have paid commenters anywhere. It's just not politically feasible; someone would leak sooner ir later, and the political fallout would be enormous. Russia is known to do that, but I don't think even they bother with HN. The simple explanation is, I think, that at some point the timezone is right for folks from Europe, or the post just hits the frontpage.

As for your gut feeling, could it be that the other viewpoint is just so foreign to you? I'm a programmer and hacker, and generally pro-regulation, as I feel that a strong state is a necessary counterbalance for the self-interest of companies.


I've said it in other threads and I'll say it again: programmers and entrepreneurs are far more than silicon valley, advertising companies, and ad supported websites. Part of the reason may be the myopia of a certain type of programmer in not realising they are possibly the minority.

As an aside, each time I post a comment like this, my karma goes up and down like a yo-yo for 24 hours :p


A large part of the developer community are European open source developers with slightly left of center views.

The community of programmers, developers, and hackers/makers (in the original meaning) has historically always been left-liberal in general, that in recent years there are groups in it that are not is rather unusual.

So of course you'd expect opinions that go against this mainstream to be downvoted.


Comments in this thread seem to range from “measured” to very negative... I don’t really see any that I’d clearly identify as state sponsored.

Your comment got flagged/downvoted, but I think that’s likely because it wasn’t backed up with any evidence. A more systematic analysis would be interesting though.


At least China is upfront and honest about their push toward techno-totalitarianism.


There are a few less obvious reasons why you wouldn't want to allow people to link to your content:

- Privacy: You want to be in control of how the information on your site is procured. This is common on government sites that generally allow public access, but require all sorts of forms and certifications to gain that access.

- Competition: If you are competing with Google or another to create the user's initial landing page, you would reasonably want to prevent them to access your own landing page content.

- Trust/Reputation: Google tries to link to as many pages as it can, but it can't link to them all. If your goal is to provide a trusted comprehensive service, you may want to deter "easy" but "non-comprehensive" access to your content. For example, it's conceivable that a medical journal would prevent access because Google only indexes 40% of it's content, and end users may develop a false (and potentially deadly) understanding that Google is comprehensive.


Absolutely, but not getting linked to has always been an option.

Publishers want Google to link to their content. At the same time they want Google to pay for the honor and prevent competitors from letting Google link to their content for free.

The only reason this ridiculously brazen set of demands doesn't get laughed out of the room is that these publishers have tremendous political clout.


The big issue is that Google over time has moved to scrape the web.

One big thing Google has done recently is they extract what you search for from a website, and show it inline.

E.g. when I search for a recipe, I get the result in the Google search, and don’t need to visit their website. https://i.k8r.eu/aILGEg

Google extracts reviews from Yelp!, and I can read them without visiting Yelp!.

They’re doing this for everything, and AMP furthers this.

Google is trying to keep the user as long as possible on Google, and show snippets instead of letting users leave.

As result many of these sites lose out on ad impressions, and money.

Google has no way to disable this feature short of entire unlisting your site.


I can see the problem with that. But as I understand it the proposed "link tax" is not limited to this sort of thing.


Yeah, it’s why I hate the law as it is, but I can obviously also understand why Google seems like a threat to the actors behind this.


> The big issue is that Google over time has moved to scrape the web.

This is true, and a lot of Google's practices are monopolistic/hegemonic.

However banning/taxing links is not the answer.


But what are you gonna do about it then? Ban snippets? Tax snippets? Wait for Google to be the web? Specially regulate Google?

There’s no good solutions.


> But what are you gonna do about it then? Ban snippets? Tax snippets? Wait for Google to be the web? Specially regulate Google?

I think I would ban search engines from doing other things, ban or regulate targetted advertising, require social networks to be interoperable, and ban social networks from owning other social networks (so Facebook would have to sell off Instagram).


That’s an idea I can agree with, and that Vestager visibly sympathizes with, but that’d mean breaking apart Google, and as result would anger a lot of people.


Google's stated goal is to provide people access to information. But in reality, they provide access to what's easily accessible to them. Any robots.txt tool is far too blunt of an instrument. It does not respect other highly valued goals of privacy, competitive fairness, and comprehensiveness, among others.

To put it more starkly, to assist with privacy, there should be a robots.txt tag/line that allows scraping, but prohibits indexing anything that is tagged as "personally identifiable information". It should be easy to Google what the newest bankruptcy law is, but should be a bit harder to figure out if a specific person filed for bankruptcy.

Similarly, with comprehensiveness, robots.txt should be able to say "don't index these pages unless you also index those pages". For example, a medical site should be able to say, you can index these several name-brand drugs but only if you also index their generic equivalents.

And as far as fairness, a better robots.txt should be able to tell Google to index the portions of its content to attract clicks, but prevent them from scraping their most valuable content. For example, Yelp may allow them to index a restaraunt's overall rating, but not summarize their reviews.


You can just have a `robots.txt` if you don't want Google to link to your content.


The issue is that sets a black and white option of not letting people find you through Google. But the alternative is letting Google scrape your content and give it to people directly from their site instead.


> But the alternative is letting Google scrape your content and give it to people directly from their site instead.

No, that is not the alternative. The alternative is to allow citations as they are allowed everywhere else, i.e. small fractions of the content with attribution.

For example, google currently may list the headline of an article and link to it. The proposal, which is based on a failed German law, is that google should pay for the privilege of sending viewers to newspapers this way.

Last time they tried google simply said "no, thanks. Then we'll not list you". Newspapers immediately caved and said they will give free access. End result: monopolies get free access and smaller potential competitors have to pay. The law completely and predictably backfired.

The, misguided IMO, hope now is that if it is an EU wide law, google will have to bow down and pay for the privilege of providing a google news like service.


I believe the newer proposal addresses that flaw. But to be honest, if Google can't build a service without theft, it should simply not operate. New solutions will be able to fill the gap.


As public regulators all over the world are busy pushing regulations (what else? that is their sole job after all) maybe it is time to stop and ask: are we losing more than we are gaining?

Everything has a price and free markets are the only mechanism for determining that price. But regulations overwrite that price with one determined by politics and lobby and populism. This new price is paid by all no matter if we want to or not.

So the question is: is it worth it? I make this kind of cost analysis in my life every day. But is it anybody doing them at the society level? As the costs of regulations add up so does the cost of the product. Can, we, as a society, afford it? Or maybe we are pawning our future to pay for these imposed costs today?


This seems like a greatly oversimplified view of things. Regulations are tools. They’re not inherently good or bad. It depends on how you use them.

If the bad regulations outweigh the good, the solution isn’t to give up on regulation, it’s to cut the bad ones.

It doesn’t make sense to lump together regulations on the acceptable amount of lead in drinking water, regulations on operations of a commercial airline, and regulations on customer data.


> Regulations are tools. They’re not inherently good or bad. It depends on how you use them.

It's not just that though. There are good and bad regulations in the sense that the law against murder is good and DMCA 1201 is bad, but there are also compliance costs for any regulation, even good ones.

Economic transactions have a certain amount of surplus. The value of doing something is $100 and the cost of doing it is $20, so we do it and gain $80 worth of surplus.

Compliance costs consume part of the surplus. Maybe it costs $5 more but we gain $10 in positive externalities, so it's worth it from a societal perspective. (But not from the perspective of the parties or we wouldn't need a regulation to get them to do it.)

The problem comes when you start stacking them. $25 is still less than $100. $50 is less than $100. $90 is less than $100. But at $101 people stop participating in the transaction and you lose the whole stack. All the benefits of the transaction, to everyone, including the positive externalities the regulations were intended to provide, are lost.

This is true even if every regulation is individually justifiable. There comes a point when the compliance costs exceed the economic surplus available to cover them. It doesn't matter if the regulations have nothing to do with each other, they can still conspire to destroy the thing they were supposed to be improving.


But you make that argument like there's a fixed pot of money to go around. $25 to spend on regulation, but tough our ancestors already regulated speed limits and copyright so you can't have any more. Pity about the environment and data privacy but hey.

Thing is there's been a fair bit of growth since my childhood, or even since the widespread adoption of the www. Just compare the sheer amount of crap people have compared to a child of even the 90s. Plenty of slack left for some regulation and changes without even the cost of compliance of 20 years ago - there's so much more money in the system.

If a business is so marginal that it can't cope with a change in interest rates or a new regulation or tax rate then any number of other tiny events would have sunk it anyway.

Note: Not to say I in any way agree with this poorly thought out piece of proposed regulation - it needs a similar response to that given to ACTA.


But you make that argument like there's a fixed pot of money to go around.

Well, usually there is. For example, I have a business that should be in a good position to take on its first "real" employees right now. We have the opportunity to take on more work, which would bring in more revenue, which would both boost our profits and create decent paying work for the extra staff. Surely these are all good things from a productivity and economic point of view. But we aren't doing any of that, as a direct result of the time, money and extra risk that would be involved. Obviously an employee has to generate more benefit for the business than it costs to employ them or it's not worth hiring, and that's your "fixed pot of money" in the case of employment regulations.

If a business is so marginal that it can't cope with a change in interest rates or a new regulation or tax rate then any number of other tiny events would have sunk it anyway.

That's true. For a lot of new or very small businesses, one bit of significant bad luck can sink them. Hopefully they will grow beyond that to become more established and robust to minor setbacks, but that takes time and it doesn't just happen automatically. In the meantime, every adverse change in taxes or fees or regulatory overheads really can be a serious problem.


> But you make that argument like there's a fixed pot of money to go around. $25 to spend on regulation, but tough our ancestors already regulated speed limits and copyright so you can't have any more. Pity about the environment and data privacy but hey.

Nobody is saying the amount is fixed over time, but that doesn't make it inexhaustible. At any given point there is a finite amount of overhead it's possible to absorb before you're doing more harm than good. If you think your new regulations are more justifiable than your ancestors' old regulations, nobody is saying you can't repeal the old ones to leave more surplus for the new ones. But if you overload a ship, it sinks.

> Thing is there's been a fair bit of growth since my childhood, or even since the widespread adoption of the www. Just compare the sheer amount of crap people have compared to a child of even the 90s. Plenty of slack left for some regulation and changes without even the cost of compliance of 20 years ago - there's so much more money in the system.

"Progress creates surplus" is not a rule. It very often moves it from one place to another.

For example, the rise of refrigeration and microwave ovens in workplaces made it more attractive to bring lunch from home. That means less business for restaurants and fewer customers to amortize fixed costs like rent, which reduces the allowable regulatory overhead before the restaurant goes out of business.

> If a business is so marginal that it can't cope with a change in interest rates or a new regulation or tax rate then any number of other tiny events would have sunk it anyway.

"Don't worry about marginal costs, marginal businesses would fail anyway" is how you successfully boil the ocean. You destroy the marginal businesses -- which is obviously bad -- but you also push an entirely different set of businesses toward the margin, so that when the next regulation or interest/tax rate hike comes, they also sink when they would previously have been able to survive.

And the entire issue here is that it's cumulative. We started with a business that had $20 in costs and $100 in value. That is nowhere near marginal. One regulation that increases their costs by $5 is easily survivable. But twenty such regulations bankrupts them. You have to weigh your alternatives, you can't have everything at the same time.


> There comes a point when the compliance costs exceed the economic surplus available to cover them.

If something is not worth doing right maybe it shouldn't be done at all?

You are making the same point, opponents of minimum wage. "But I'll go out of business!!!" If your business is that bad, than maybe you should!


Or business will pass the compliance costs to the consumer, thus raising price for all. Those breaking the law and not complying will have a competitive advantage, as well as those large enough to spread the compliance costs over all their production. And thus the raise of the regulation-loving mega-corporation.

Wages are the price of work as established by the free market. Minimum wage in effect eliminates less competitive workers from the market place, since their added value becomes less than their cost. They are simply replaced by more productive workers or robots. The most vulnerable members of our society are affected the most, being robbed by the dignity and opportunities of a paid job and being relegated instead to live off the government's teat.


> ... being robbed by the dignity and opportunities of a paid job ...

Why don't you work for below minimum wage and relate to us what dignity and opportunities it provides.

I worked as a developer and I didn't get any additional dignity from the fact that the job was paid. I got the exactly same dignity when I got same money (and more) for doing nothing.

As for opportunities I don't think there are many in below minimum wage jobs, people tend to describe them as "dead end jobs".


I did. That fist job barely covered food but it taught me how to behave, how to listen and how to work with others. The opportunities and connections it offered put me on the path that took me where I am today. I would’ve done it for free.


> I would’ve done it for free.

Are you sure? If you didn't have a job (because there weren't enough business good enough to pay minimum wage) but had your basic needs paid for (through basic income) wouldn't you want anything more for yourself? Wouldn't you seek connections and new skills? Probably some people wouldn't, but you?

Are you sure that you owe where you are today only to someone buying lots of your time for a price below reasonable minimum wage?


Very sure. If I had UBI I would’ve stayed home, played video games and jerked off.

That first job taught me the value of work, the value of my time, how to get others to give me what I needed in exchange of me giving them what they wanted. Taught me how the world works.

Finally it was a huge motivator to improve - through hard work.

No government-assured income would have been able to give me all that.


Edit: I thought my parent poster was the same as my grandparent's parent. I removed a paragraph aimed at the latter. Sorry!

[...]

Just because people earn less and have less money, the economic output in goods won't change. Goods will simply become cheaper.

What really matters is WHERE the money is removed from the system because companies/individuals supposedly hoard it, pay low wages, or cost of compliance is high. Because that place/group/country will become poorer compared to the rest of the world or country.

There's many complex interactions when you think about economies at global or nation scale.

To get to the matter at hand:

> Or business will pass the compliance costs to the consumer, thus raising price for all.

Yes. They may need to hire two additional people or change their manufacturing process to a more expensive one to comply with some safety standards and whatnot. The good might become slightly more expensive compared to other goods, and some economic output will be lost. But everyone will have to do that, which gets me to your next point:

> Those breaking the law and not complying will have a competitive advantage.

Criminals always had a competitive advantage. It's the job of law enforcement to make sure this doesn't happen - if that doesn't work you have a bigger problem. This argument is useless.

> as well as those large enough to spread the compliance costs over all their production.

Depends on what the compliance cost is. Need to hire an extra guy to do paper pushing for compliance? This cost (maybe) can be spread. Need to use more expensive materials? Bigger corps won't have more advantages here than they had anyways (buy in bulk etc.)

> Wages are the price of work as established by the free market.

That's the theory and mostly true. The problem is a disparity in bargaining power and stakes at wage negotiations. You need organizations selling that "work" who are at least as powerful as their buyers (read: unions).

A lack of unions can force companies (through no fault of their own) to determine wages by the market price of their produce, instead of raising their prices. An union has the power to negotiate wages across entire industries - thus allowing companies to compete without doing so on the backs of their workers. (Edit: This is essentially a way of arriving at a minimum wage for that industry).

> They are simply replaced by more productive workers or robots.

Again. Maybe they should use robots - if a robot can perform the work for less than what could be considered a livable wage for a human worker, the human worker is best used elsewhere. You just made a good argument that minimum wages could increase economic output.

> The most vulnerable members of our society are affected the most, being robbed by the dignity and opportunities of a paid job and being relegated instead to live off the government's teat.

The dignity of a job that is paid so badly that the government has to indirectly subsidize the industry by giving the worker additional government aid, even though he has a paid job? Another great example that the free market fails at setting fair wages. Industries like that should be forced to increase their prices instead of indirectly being subsidized with tax payer money by having their workers receive government aid. Yes: McDonalds & Co. prices may increase - but you were paying that anyway, indirectly, with taxes.


> They may need to hire two additional people or change their manufacturing process to a more expensive one to comply with some safety standards and whatnot. The good might become slightly more expensive compared to other goods, and some economic output will be lost.

It won't be lost. It goes toward preventing work related injury, or harm to the customer. It basically prevents manufacturer from dodging social cost his enterprise impairs on workers, customers and people who live nearby. This way it can be and is included in the price and also it's cheaper altogether because it's almost always to prevent then to treat.

Regulation can save everybody's money.


> It won't be lost. It goes toward preventing work related injury, or harm to the customer.

That's the surplus, not the economic output. To know whether that is a net positive you would have to know what would have happened to it in the alternative. The customer might have paid less and then used the money to pay for something important like medicine or education.

But the economic output is separate from that. The issue there isn't that the customer has to pay more, it's that the amount the customer has to pay is now too much and they drop out of the market. Then they don't get the product -- and if the product was something important like medicine or education, that's quite problematic. And the makers of the product also lose that business, which reduces the total amount of surplus that exists to do meritorious things with. And the government loses the tax revenue. That kind of dead weight economic loss is very bad.


> Just because people earn less and have less money, the economic output in goods won't change. Goods will simply become cheaper.

Wait, what? That is obviously not what happens. If 100K people lose their jobs, they have less money which means they buy less stuff. But nobody is going to materially change prices as a result of what 100K people do out of 300M. Those 100K people are just screwed.

> Criminals always had a competitive advantage. It's the job of law enforcement to make sure this doesn't happen - if that doesn't work you have a bigger problem.

Law enforcement is never 100% effective. People paying each other under the table is rampant and most of them never get caught.

Every time you impose more burdens on law abiding citizens, you increase the wages of crime.

> Depends on what the compliance cost is. Need to hire an extra guy to do paper pushing for compliance? This cost (maybe) can be spread. Need to use more expensive materials? Bigger corps won't have more advantages here than they had anyways (buy in bulk etc.)

Both of those benefit larger entities. Suppose you sell a unit for $100 and your previous unit cost was $80 but with the more expensive materials it's $90. Then you need to sell 50,000 units to cover a $500,000 fixed cost instead of 25,000 units. But you only sell 40,000 units, so you're out of business. The larger company sells a million units and has no such problem.

> Maybe they should use robots - if a robot can perform the work for less than what could be considered a livable wage for a human worker, the human worker is best used elsewhere. You just made a good argument that minimum wages could increase economic output.

But that's what would happen regardless if the human worker could find another job that pays more than the one being automated. The issue is that the human worker would prefer $5/hour to unemployment, and the employer would prefer a $5/hour employee to automation but prefer automation to an $8/hour employee, so an $8 minimum wage puts the employee on the unemployment line.

> The dignity of a job that is paid so badly that the government has to indirectly subsidize the industry by giving the worker additional government aid, even though he has a paid job? Another great example that the free market fails at setting fair wages.

Which is more undignified, working a job supplemented by government assistance or being unemployed and 100% reliant on government assistance?


> But that's what would happen regardless if the human worker could find another job that pays more than the one being automated. The issue is that the human worker would prefer $5/hour to unemployment, and the employer would prefer a $5/hour employee to automation but prefer automation to an $8/hour employee, so an $8 minimum wage puts the employee on the unemployment line.

Putting people who perform work we can do cheaper with automation on the unemployment line is a side-effect of a good thing. Think of what the first wave of industrialization brought us.

People can now invest time learning skills they're actually needed for, without reducing economic output (and later supplementing it).

> Which is more undignified, working a job supplemented by government assistance or being unemployed and 100% reliant on government assistance?

Honestly? Rather than slaving away at McDonalds working for 7 dollars an hour, effectively kissing the ass of that horrible company, just to receive government aid anyways to get me to the end of the month I'd just not work at all.

At least that way FastFoodChainX can't use me to leech off the government and myself.

Just because you introduce a minimum wage restaurants and junk food chains aren't going to go away. They're gonna get more expensive, sure. But you'll lessen the burden they create on society, as well as raising a class of neglected workers to the point where they can afford to dine at such places themselves.

> Both of those benefit larger entities. Suppose you sell a unit for $100 and your previous unit cost was $80 but with the more expensive materials it's $90.

What's really gonna happen is that it'll now sell for $110. Or probably $115 to cover the advertising for the new "High quality ingredients! Now 95% less poisonous!"


> Putting people who perform work we can do cheaper with automation on the unemployment line is a side-effect of a good thing. Think of what the first wave of industrialization brought us.

In that case we should be taxing wages and using the money to subsidize automation. That way it's everyone paying for the benefits of automation rather than only those at the very bottom.

> People can now invest time learning skills they're actually needed for, without reducing economic output (and later supplementing it).

But they could already do this without a minimum wage. There is no law against quitting your crappy job so you can learn a new trade.

> Honestly? Rather than slaving away at McDonalds working for 7 dollars an hour, effectively kissing the ass of that horrible company, just to receive government aid anyways to get me to the end of the month I'd just not work at all.

Again, if people actually believed this and unemployment is really better than a crappy job then why don't they quit?

> Just because you introduce a minimum wage restaurants and junk food chains aren't going to go away.

They do at the margin. A restaurant in the heart of New York City is not going to close on account of raising the minimum wage. One in rural Nebraska very well might.

> They're gonna get more expensive, sure.

...which hurts their low income customers. And wasn't the benefit of automation supposed to be lower prices? That doesn't work when you force the automation by prohibiting its competition.

> But you'll lessen the burden they create on society

How does causing them to lose their jobs lessen the burden they create on society?

> What's really gonna happen is that it'll now sell for $110. Or probably $115 to cover the advertising for the new "High quality ingredients! Now 95% less poisonous!"

At which point the higher price causes price-sensitive customers to drop out of the market and the smaller company fails for lack of volume rather than lack of margins. Either way the smaller company is more likely to be destroyed than the larger one.


> There is no law against quitting your crappy job so you can learn a new trade. > Again, if people actually believed this and unemployment is really better than a crappy job then why don't they quit?

Speaking from a German perspective there is such a law. They will cut your unemployment benefits if you can't prove you're hunting for a job, or just go around quitting them. Not sure about the states.

We have a minimum wage, but it's not that high (just slightly above the US "minimum wage").

> ...which hurts their low income customers.

Low income customers? We have a minimum wage now remember? If at all it's gonna hurt richer customers who are now a little less rich compared to the rest.

> How does causing them to lose their jobs lessen the burden they create on society?

I was speaking of the burden places like Walmart etc. create because of indirect government subsidies.

> At which point the higher price causes price-sensitive customers to drop out of the market and the smaller company fails for lack of volume rather than lack of margins. Either way the smaller company is more likely to be destroyed than the larger one.

There's a lack of logical connection between those two sentences, probably a third sentence missing in between?

---

Livable minimum wages:

The point I seem to fail to bring across is that you're paying the higher prices for goods produced fairly RIGHT NOW. You're just not paying them at the counter, you're paying them with your taxes. They're unfair subsidies to companies who pay dumpster wages - rewards for treating their workers like shit.

These forms of subsidies are arguably even less "free market" than the alternative.


> Speaking from a German perspective there is such a law. They will cut your unemployment benefits if you can't prove you're hunting for a job, or just go around quitting them.

Then doesn't the same thing happen to the person who loses their job to a minimum wage increase? You can't spend all day learning a new trade if you have to spend all day chasing jobs you're not qualified to do yet.

It seems like your quarrel is with the unemployment rules, e.g. maybe they should be replaced with a UBI.

> Low income customers? We have a minimum wage now remember? If at all it's gonna hurt richer customers who are now a little less rich compared to the rest.

Your argument is that raising consumer prices hurts rich people more than poor people?

> I was speaking of the burden places like Walmart etc. create because of indirect government subsidies.

I have a hard time faulting a company for hiring people who would otherwise be unemployed. And the subsidies are ostensibly there to help the employees. Who do you expect it to hurt more if we got rid of them, the company or the workers?

> There's a lack of logical connection between those two sentences, probably a third sentence missing in between?

The premise is that regulatory overhead is increasing unit costs. In response a company can do one of two things. If they don't raise prices then they maintain their customer volume but have reduced margins. If they do raise prices then they maintain their margins but suffer reduced customer volume. In both cases they make less money and the smaller company may no longer be making enough to cover their fixed costs.

> The point I seem to fail to bring across is that you're paying the higher prices for goods produced fairly RIGHT NOW. You're just not paying them at the counter, you're paying them with your taxes.

The direct cause of that is social assistance to low income people. It makes no sense to at the same time have a policy of providing assistance to the working poor and prohibit them from working at those wages. At least one of them is wrong.

When the alternative to $5 wages isn't higher wages but higher unemployment, the company paying the $5 wages isn't a drain in society -- it's reducing by $5/hr the amount of social assistance needed to keep those people from starving.

The real source of the problem is that there are people whose labor is not worth a living wage. But minimum wage doesn't change that. If there was someone willing to pay $20/hr then they wouldn't be working for $5/hr. Prohibiting them from working for low wages just makes them unemployed and even more reliant on social assistance.

If you want an actual solution, try policies that reduce the market price of necessities like housing and medicine, so that the wages of unskilled labor are survivable without the need for social assistance.


> Your argument is that raising consumer prices hurts rich people more than poor people?

This equation has two sides, remember? Minimum wages will benefit the poorest people the most by increasing their income, all while increasing prices generally - which everyone pays for. Among the poorest you will see an increase in purchasing power, while everyone else's will be slightly reduced. This isn't hard to grasp, really.

Also, at least in Germany, there has been no statistically significant change to general employment when the minimum wage was introduced. There have however been some marginal price increases as well as reduced employment (< -2% according to some sources) in those sectors affected, which are offset by roughly 5% higher wages in those sectors, as well as increased employment in other sectors. Total employment even increased. That works out to a net positive in my book.

I didn't buy the oppositions arguments when the minimum wage was introduced, and I don't buy their same arguments now that they are against increasing it.

https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/DE/Downloads/Diskussionspapier...

http://doku.iab.de/discussionpapers/2016/dp1016.pdf


> This equation has two sides, remember? Minimum wages will benefit the poorest people the most by increasing their income, all while increasing prices generally - which everyone pays for. Among the poorest you will see an increase in purchasing power, while everyone else's will be slightly reduced.

The problem is most of the poor don't actually get that bump. None of the people who lose their jobs do, nor anyone who was already unemployed, nor the people whose wages were already just above the new minimum wage. But they all have to pay the higher prices.

> Also, at least in Germany, there has been no statistically significant change to general employment when the minimum wage was introduced.

This is quite unsurprising. The vast majority of people make more than minimum wage so instituting a minimum wage would have little to no effect on their employment. The loss of employment is to the people who had been making less than the new minimum wage.

People are often surprised how few people actually make minimum wage. It's a low single digit percentage of people.

> There have however been some marginal price increases as well as reduced employment (< -2% according to some sources) in those sectors affected, which are offset by roughly 5% higher wages in those sectors, as well as increased employment in other sectors. Total employment even increased. That works out to a net positive in my book.

This is purporting to show the effects of a minimum wage that only existed for little more than a year when the studies were done. It takes longer than that for some companies to realign their operations with the new costs, e.g. to replace your checkout clerks with machines you have to negotiate with suppliers, evaluate the machines, deploy them, etc. In the meantime you keep the employees and eat the higher cost, but only temporarily.

This is why evaluating this kind of thing is extremely difficult. It can take a decade or more to fully shake out, but the number of confounders that can appear in that time frame make it difficult to distinguish the effects of the minimum wage from everything else that happens in the economy. That's why the issue remains contentious.

More annoyingly, studies in different economies are not comparable. To see why, imagine the effects of a $5000/hour minimum wage. Obviously an unemployment disaster. Meanwhile a $0.05/hour minimum wage would cause approximately no unemployment, but also yield no other benefits.

The amount of unemployment caused by a given minimum wage is determined by dynamic characteristics of the economy. The same minimum wage will cause different amounts of unemployment in Pennsylvania than California etc., or different amounts in 2005 than 2015.

It's all too easy to screw it up and end up on the wrong side of the equation. And even when it's "working" you're still severely screwing over a small percentage of the working poor in exchange for a very modest wage increase for the remainder.


No, I don't think what you're saying is true in general (even though it is certainly true in many individual cases).

Some regulations/laws increase efficiciency by reducing complexity or risk and therefore reduce cost as well.

Your logic is built on the assumption that without regulation there would be no need to agree on the things that we regulate.

But the alternative may in fact be endless piecemeal negotiation, duplication of work, great uncertainty, high hedging and legal costs and a lack of transparency that makes markets inefficient for long periods of time.

It's very difficult to get regulation right though. So I too think that erring on the side of less regulation is generally a good idea.


I don’t see how that’s possible. If two regulations are in completely unrelated areas, how can they combine to destroy something?

There are plenty of cases where regulation benefits all of the involved parties. My favorite example is safety equipment for race cars. Absent regulation, there’s huge pressure to not have any because it increases weight and slows you down. But if you regulate it so everyone has to have it, you stop that dangerous incentive and everyone is better off.

And of course the classic theoretical framework for this is the prisoners’ dilemma. Forcing the prisoners to cooperate makes them both better off, but they won’t do that on their own.


> I don’t see how that’s possible. If two regulations are in completely unrelated areas, how can they combine to destroy something?

Let's take three unrelated regulations. Factories can't pollute the environment, vehicles have to undergo crash testing, and buildings above a certain height are not allowed in a particular area.

Now we look at a local newspaper. It has to buy newsprint from a factory, the factory's costs have gone up due to environmental regulations, so the price of newsprint goes up. Then it has to deliver the print edition to readers, the safety standards cause vehicles to be more expensive, which raises its delivery costs. Then its rent is higher because the zoning regulation prevents the construction of more commercial rental properties.

The local newspaper is struggling to survive as it is. It can survive any two of these regulations but the combination of all three puts it out of business. (And having too many newspapers go out of business may put the newsprint factory out of business etc.)

So we need to prioritize. Environmental regulations and vehicle safety are pretty important, so we should have those and not the zoning regulations.

> There are plenty of cases where regulation benefits all of the involved parties.

You're talking about the consequences of the regulation, not the compliance costs. Even if everyone is better off -- even if the regulation is worth having -- it still required everyone to spend some amount of resources on lawyers and safety equipment and so on. You can only do that finitely many times before you exhaust your available resources.

Which means the regulations we have should be only the ones that yield major returns.


Compliance costs are part of the consequences of a regulation. If a regulation is a net gain then you’re not exhausting resources, you’re expanding what’s available.

Consider the vehicle safety regulations, for example. If they’re good, then the lives saved and injuries avoided outweigh the costs. The newspaper benefits from this by paying for fewer medical and funeral bills for on-the-job crashes, and that savings will be greater than the added cost to the vehicles.


Realistically though its much, much harder to cut down on regulations than invent new ones. There is much more inertia one something is in place, because some people's jobs depend on regulating it / some businesses have already sunk money into complying / etc


Regulations increase the cost of entry, which means less competition, which means it hurts the free market. It really is as simple as that and you can most definitely group all regulations into the same category in this case.


Regulations can help free markets too. For example, restaurant health regulations make people more willing to patronize different establishments. If a new restaurant can’t get off the ground because those health regulations are too difficult to comply with, that sure sounds like a good thing to me (assuming the regulations themselves are reasonable).


sure, reasonable regulations, meaning those designed to protect human life. how exactly do these regulations do that again?


and who regulates the regulators?


Congress.


Imagine most of those involved in regulations are barely able to use Word/Excel, yet are "elected" to decide the fate of technology.


And who is going to stop them, when even multi-million companies just shallow the pill(like GDPR) and even try to market it positively that they are gonna adopt it first.


>multi-million companies just shallow the pill

They're very happy. It's not a "pill" to swallow, it's a tool to squash any small competitor.


Big business massively lobbied against the GDPR. One big reason it ended up so strict is because the final negotiations happened to coincide with the Snowden revelations, giving cover for politicians to resist the lobbying.


The link tax is one thing, but I would say GDPR actually aids in price discovery, because without GDPR one side of the transaction has no idea what price they're paying.


It's possible some sites will switch to paid if they feel the targeted ads model in untenable. Others will just disappear, so in that sense there will be no price discovery.


And plenty of new business models and paid models will appear that allow proper price discovery.


0. The price anyone paid when their data was used was 0. There are 0 real-world negative consequences on anybody's personal lives due to their information being used by advertisers. They benefited for free.


I really wish I had enough karma to downvote this. Sure, using "free" ad funded services doesn't cost any money, but a price is still paid. Do you really think there is 0 possible consequences of every step you take both physical and virtual being persisted and replicated and mined ad infinitum? People think they pay with their attention, but they also pay with their privacy. Not the "my interests include fantasy football and romantic comedy" kind of privacy, but the "on June 4th I visited a gay bar 6 hours from home so no one would recognize me" kind. Then since you scrolled through Facebook while you were there, they start suggesting other people there as friends, and showing you ads based off of their interests.

Knowledge of who you associated with and what you do when no one you know is watching might not seem dangerous to you now in the western world living through the longest period of peace in Europe since the fall of the Roman empire, but that shit gets people killed. You don't have to look far back. You don't have to look far away either, shit happens today. How many people lost their lives in communist/fascist revolutions over the past century even, if only because "they associated with the enemy"? Can you imagine what the SS could have done with the kind of data that modern ad companies have?


It is worth it for those that do it. This is thousands of hours of paid meetings, presentations, lunches, conferences. They just get themselves busy and collect tax payers hard earned money. If it is good for the society? Bureaucrats don't care, as they are winning.


>are we losing more than we are gaining?

who's "we"?

some people are losing (individuals, small business, startups, entrepreneurs), and some people are gaining (bureaucrats, regulatory bodies, well-established big companies, people willing to sacrifice liberty for security)


In an ideal world regulations would work like technological standards. By following web standards you benefit from a huge body of previous work and effort. You can deploy a website without needing to build a web browser or worry about designing a transfer protocol. You can concentrate on things that have real customer value. The same can apply to regulations. It can reduce competition in areas that damage the consumer and wider society. You don't have to invent your own safety rules (for example), you just have to adopt the existing standard.

The problem of course is that regulators can be heavy handed, sometimes innefficient and make it more difficult for small companies to compete. But that does not mean that regulations are intrinsically bad.


Regulations are compulsory - no matter if they are bad or not.

Technical standards on the other hand, are optional. People will adopt them only if the benefits will outweight their drawbacks, thus ensuring that only beneficial technical standards survive.

That little difference (optional vs compulsory) changes everything. Good ideas, when compulsory, are still a dictature, while free choice is what makes a democracy.


s/good ideas/ideas directly beneficial to implementer/

Technical standards are not adopted when they interfere with business goals. That's why we have no ubiquitous computing yet, that's why it took regulation to make a standard charging port for phones happen. Regulations are necessary to solve coordination problems on the market - the very problem that's defined by individual voluntary choices leading to bad outcomes for everyone.


s/good ideas/ideas directly beneficial on the free market/ - to the implementer and/or the customer. The implementer doesn't do things in a vacuum. Customers and competition will swiftly punish ideas beneficial to the implementer but bad for the market.

That being said, the regulators do tend to have the arrogance of thinking they know better than the consumer. They take non-issues on the market (charging port) and impose crappy solution (micro-usb) while the eventual better solution (usb-c) is still much worse than some of the offers on the market (Apple's lightning port).

With thinking like that we would end up with zero innovation or competition on the OS platform just to solve the "coordination problems on the market". Because who needs Mac OS or Linux, right?! Windows should've been good enough for anyone! Of course, that is why big-cos like Microsoft love that kind of regulatory thinking.


Customers and competition will swiftly punish ideas beneficial to the implementer but bad for the market.

That has demonstrably not been the case in practice. Proprietary hardware components, legally encumbered "standards" and protocols, software licensing restrictions, and locking up user data are all examples of barriers to competition that are clearly bad for the market and yet have been widely and successfully employed. Typically it has required significant legal/regulatory changes to bring those barriers down, and in some cases we still haven't.


Couldn't agree more. EU regulations are playing into the hands of large established dinosaurs at the cost of indie and SME businesses. Im really concerned at how this will pan out.


It's true that there's a cost to compliance, but this handy paper has come out claiming that there's no evidence that regulation reduces industry dynamism: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/02/fe...

(The author is a noted libertarian, so it's good to see him publishing a paper that shows the opposite result to what he'd expect)


> As public regulators all over the world are busy pushing regulations (what else? that is their sole job after all) maybe it is time to stop and ask ...

Maybe it's time? That implies that this propaganda about regulations and regulators and this question haven't been talking points for the right and for libertarians for decades, and on HN probably for as long as it's existed. The current U.S. president and GOP go on and on about it ceaselessly. Maybe it's time to ask if proprietary software is more secure than open source, or if Microsoft or Google are monopolists, or if the iPhone will ever take off.

Or, 'maybe it's time' to add some value to the conversation rather than yet more rhetoric.


I don't think this comment is adding value to the conversation. It is also riddled with the commentor's own political rhetoric.


You illustrated the point. The GPs comment is philosophical but there's still people who are fooled by these comments into thinking they have novelty, when it's simply a position that has existed since inception.


Free markets aren't always good at pricing things. For example highways wouldn't get built because of the holdout problem if there wasn't eminent domain.

There is also such thing as inalienable rights: the ability to sell yourself into slavery probably should be banned, even though libertarian agents seemingly should know the value of their own freedom.

But it also seems evident in this regulation that no one is doing that calculus. Everyone is clear on "with this regulation we gain X", but only a small fraction of people seem to be thinking "and then, people will behave in Y way and we lose Z".

With many US regulations, there are public comment periods, and those comments are summarized and published. At least when many regulations pass, people know the potential downsides. Can anyone link to the EU equivalent of this? What has the EU parliament office said about the pros and cons?


I suggest you look up the history of road building in the U.K. The holdout problem is far from insuperable, even without eminent domain.


Can you recommend any good sources on that?



I hope this dies just like many laws the US tries to pass on regulating the Internet in a way that promotes special interests versus that of the public good.

But as a thought experiment, if you were a lawyer tasked to argue this was publicly good, what could you even say? Content creators deserve money for creating content. Aggregators are stealing some of that value and that's inefficient but currently unenforceable? .... I just can't even think of another reason.

Maybe this is protectionism (both nationally and of existing enterprises). French publications are upset they can't get more of the pie from Google who is US based. EU publications in general are upset that aggregation theory ( https://stratechery.com/2015/aggregation-theory/ ) has taken hold and distributors like publishers are getting wiped out.

This will surely accelerate a trend that Google is already doing without monetary incentive: creating their own content and putting in on top.


> But as a thought experiment, if you were a lawyer tasked to argue this was publicly good, what could you even say?

The primary economic value of many news articles is provided by timeliness and one or two key facts, even if they appear in a longer piece. By including a copy of those facts adjacent to the article link, the linking party is taking that value without actually doing the work of journalism. Copyright is a mechanism that is already in place to deal with undesirable distribution of an author's work, so the simple solution is to extend its protection to even tiny parts of journalistic writing.


> what could you even say?

That it is just a fact of life. Every creation is based directly or indirectly on past creations, then how about looking after the rights of entities that contributed to the content created? Should content creators share their revenue? That places them in privileged position. What about profit content creators get from exposure given by aggregators? Should they share too? And so on. This is just terribly stupid.


Ignoring what the laws are actually about, GDPR and copyright are similar in this: one entity gets legal control over others' use of certain information. But while the privacy law is aimed at allowing individuals to assert some control over companies, the expansion of copyright is used by companies to assert control over individuals.


Don't forget that companies are made of people and an individual is a company of 1.

GDPR is pretty much DRM for an individual's personal data.


> Don't forget that companies are made of people

This is totally irrelevant, because the governance model of a a company is a limited dictatorship, and not all those people are equal. A company is only the people at its top, the rest are chattel.

A company is also not made of people in the legal sense, it is a separate entity.


That is BS. You are talking about businesses as if all you know about them is from Hollywood movies.

I suggest you go ahead and build a company, any company. You may learn how things really work, not the evil caricature you have in your mind. It's not that hard and it’s quite rewarding.


Well, to be technical, in Europe a company does not enjoy the same rights and privileges as an actual person (natural vs legal person). So legal persons are made of natural people and natural people are a legal person of 1 but also enjoy a lot more rights and privileges than legal persons.


This is why EUParliament exists: to keep national elites, embodied in the Council and Commission, in check. This is one of those instances where MEPs can shine by holding the line against idiotic regulation. Call your MEPs and let them know this is a chance for them to get visibility by doing The Right Thing, voting down this crap. And if they reply with boilerplate, make sure you vote a different party next time - the proportional nature of EU elections makes it easy for smaller parties to benefit from small swings in numbers.


Can we direct some of the GDPR ire at this please, because this is (a) genuinely bad for everyone except a few legacy publishers and (b) not yet finalised?


From the associated article about this supposed "link tax".

> Anyone using snippets of journalistic online content must first get a license from the publisher.

Re-publishing a portion of a published work is not a "link". A link is only a reference (address) where something (e.g. a published work) may be found, which not part of the work itself. Displaying a portion of work might be an allowed "fair use"? (I only know US copyright law; the EU may have very different laws about when it is "fair" to bypass copyr8ight and use part of a work)

However, it is important to remember that (at least in US-like jurisdiction) that the amount of work included in a snippet is one of several features used when judging if a use is "fair". Another important question is if the use affects the market for the original work. An academic paper that quotes snippets from an article is probably fair (nobody would read the paper as a substitute for reading the original article), while an aggregator using the same snippets may not be a fair use if people are reading the aggregator to read the article instead of continuing to the original publisher. In general, each case probably requires judge to rule if a specific use is "fair".

> Because readers need to know what a link leads to before clicking, sites almost always include a snippet of the linked-to content as part of a link.

This is deliberately attempting to conflate re-publication with a hyperlink. Link previews are not needed, are not used for the vast majority of links on the web. Claiming that previews are "almost always" included is patently a lie.

Should it be necessary, this kind of feature is better implemented in the user agent. I'm fairly certain I saw link prefetch+preview extensions for Firefox ~10 years ago.

> Small publishers disadvantaged: Aggregators create a level playing field for independent publishers with less brand recognition to reach audiences.

Did Google or FB write this doublespeak? Allowing aggregators to republish copyright protected works benefits the big players by allowing them to steal existing markets.


You're treating this as a conventional copyright issue, but I'm not sure that's correct. To quote the EFF's summary:

> This isn't a copyright, because the link tax is paid to the publisher rather than the author, and because it is payable even if the portion of the news article taken isn't copyright-protected, falls within a copyright exception, or is freely licensed.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/02/how-have-europes-uploa...


There is no such thing as "fair use" (or the "three-step-test" which you refer to) in EU copyright law. There is a defined list of exceptions (almost all of which are optional for member states to implement), and "link snippets" are not one of them. Every act of copying/making available not covered under those is forbidden.

Plus, as another commenter said, this is not a copyright, but a related right – certain aspects of copyright like the requirement for the work to reflect some amount of original human creativity to enjoy protection do not apply.

You claim most links do not include snippets, but given the popularity of Facebook, Twitter & Co for sharing links, I'm not sure that's still true. Even then: Even the title of a page alone is a snippet (not specifically excluded from this planned regulation), and I bet the majority of hyperlinks on the web do include the title of the linked-to page.

As for the argument that only FB or Google would argue that small publishers will be disadvantaged by this, I refer to this lobbying organisation by independent publishers: http://mediapublishers.eu


> This is deliberately attempting to conflate re-publication with a hyperlink. Link previews are not needed, are not used for the vast majority of links on the web. Claiming that previews are "almost always" included is patently a lie.

To be fair, most social networks include some kind of link previews. Are you saying this is not a big deal because this will only affect links shared on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Slack, Discord and all other major social networks?


> Should it be necessary, this kind of feature is better implemented in the user agent. I'm fairly certain I saw link prefetch+preview extensions for Firefox ~10 years ago.

I'd rather avoid that; sending fingerprintable information to random websites linked from e.g. a search result page or an article seems like a great way to unnecessarily expose myself to being tracked and abused in all kinds of ways.


Providing a <a href="..." prefetch> wouldn't give any tracking capability that <iframe ...> doesn't already give.


That's true, but I don't know of anyone who does link previews via iframe.


Seems like the past 15 years were once-in-history-and-never-again blip where we had some illusion of building a better society. Oh well, my face goes back under the stamping boot...


Probably there have been some other times like this, but we forgot them


We need a list. Early days of amateur radio? Print?


Maybe. But those required quite a lot of money or rare resources, so while they were supporting emerging classes that could afford it, only Internet allowed almost everyone to have a voice (well, OK, still most of the Earth's population has problems surviving, so we aren't there yet).


The Sixties!?


Everything changes yet remains the same. The Man and the people are always in balance. Have hope. We shall prevail.


If the sites don't want the traffic from links that drive their revenue then why don't they identify the servers which are prefetching content and IP ban them and file abuse complaints. They probably have very identifiable User-Agent strings.

Also this link tax reminds me that I think browser vendors should provide better privacy options for removing the referer header from link requests to prevent tracking.


> They probably have very identifiable User-Agent strings

Yes. Because bots never change or spoof their user agents.


"link tax" is aimed at mature aggregators and search engines, someone you can actually sue. GoogleBot, BingBot and friends do not change or spoof their user agents.


If you think being a large company means its user agent doesn't change, you haven't been monitoring user agents very long.

The fact that you choose to use Bing as an example proves my point. Bing is only eight years old. Before that it identified itself as msnbot.


Wow. Once in 8 years. Quite a point you have there /s

Every single respectable search engines (which can be targets of lawsuits, and are thus targeted by this law) has proper identification.

If a content owner worries so much that their data might be available somewhere (search engine, aggregator, ...) they did not approve, they should whitelist rather than blacklist.

They can (and should) also whitelist/blacklist at the referrer level.

But a law actually lets them have it both ways; They only sue those that they dislike, after the fact, letting others keep linking. At least that's the thinking - in practice, if such a law is written (which has happened before), Google, Facebook and others will drop those sources that don't give the info for free, those sources will see their numbers drop 90% over a month, and come back begging to be reindexed.

I find it quite infuriating that laws are being put into place for problems which already have a very simple and precise technical solution.


Wow. Once in 8 years. Quite a point you have there /s

You sound young.

It's not unusual for serious code to run for decades without modification. The less it has to be touched, the better it was made from the start.


I have been programming professionally for nearly three decades now. I know that some 24 year old code of mine is still running, essentially unmodified, at the company I worked for at the time. And now that you got off my lawn ...

I fail to see what you are trying to say. That a change once in 8 years in a user agent string is too frequent? Because that seems to be what you are saying. And if that is what you are saying, I don't think we have any common ground to base the discussion on.


GDPR and the proposed copyright laws will break the internet irrecoverably.

The start-up industry will be a long forgotten dream.

These old b@$%%%s will turn the internet into cable television.

Scumbags would want to go back to a world of slavery, colonisation and wealth locked up as gold in personal treasuries.

I hope all the other countries follow suit and then the only thing we will be able to aim for is a job in these government bodies or the few surviving monopolies.

Sorry for my language.


Why do you (and others) lump GDPR with this law? There is nothing common to them.

Other than people who actually profit of personal data, I have not met one person who isn't in favor of the GDPR. This law is different.


There's one thing in common. Money required to obey them. And while GDPR can be somewhat avoided, how in the everloving name of Christ, can you avoid linking without horribly distorting the basic principles of the Web?


GDPR requires money to comply if you weren’t already compliant, yes - and at the extreme, it might even kill your business completely if your business isn’t gdpr compatible. But that’s a transient effect.

It is similar to an ordinance saying “starting tomorrow, you may not dump your sewage in the sea”. It might cost you to get proper disposal services, and if your business was about disposing to the sea, you’ll probably have to close shop.

But new houses wont dispose to the sea in the first place. And it will be better for everyone.


GDPR sure.

But link tax and upload monitor? How do you avoid that? Never link to anything and never allow any uploads? What about comments, they could contain important excerpt from some book owned by EU publishers.


>Other than people who actually profit of personal data, I have not met one person who isn't in favor of the GDPR

yeah!

Also, only people who have something to hide are too attached to privacy /s


Every law is a balancing act. I note your /s, but still think its worthy of a response because many people accept this without sarcasm.

GDPR prefers, in the grand scheme of things, the privacy and anonymity of 400M European to the bottom line of 50-100 companies, most of which aren't based in Europe.

Lack of privacy hurts & benefits ... who, exactly? Mostly the same (except it's more like 1000-5000 companies, but still).


This is unnecessarily alarmist and hilarious. It's clear that personal information and other data was not properly respected by many startups and large companies. Data "breaches" and the various apology tours have shown a massive loophole in the law, and now the law is responding by closing the loophole.

If your business was profiting specifically by exploiting personal information, this would be a sad day for you but a "good riddance" moment for the rest of the world. If you have a legitimate business that isn't underpinned by such odious behaviors, this demands a small review of your business practices but is generally a good thing.


I’d be very interested in hearing the counterarguments to this comment instead of just seeing downvotes.


The uncommented and numerous downvotes (-4 at the moment) in these discussions about GDPR remind me of the great Upton Sinclair quote:

> It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.


It's a lot more than a "small review", even for product focused sites not anywhere near the business of selling or monetizing personal data.


That's fair, but businesses need to do all kinds of things they'd rather not have to do, just to be able to do business. I'm not sure I really believe the sky is falling just because businesses need to take better care of user data.


Scumbags would want to go back to a world of slavery, colonisation and wealth locked up as gold in personal treasuries.

That's some kind of weird hyperbole that doesn't make much sense.

I hope all the other countries follow suit and then the only thing we will be able to aim for is a job in these government bodies or the few surviving monopolies.

The rest of the world will ignore the EU, while the EU continues to dig its own grave.


> weird hyperbole

I agree. I can't seem to understand why would someone propose something as stupid as the linktax. So my brain came up with this weird reason. Nevertheless, the world will come up with something. It always does.


Law's are like playing wackamole when it comes to things like limiting how technology will be (ab)used. In the long run, those with means (resources [and various ways of protecting such], knowledge) will do what they can.


GDPR and the proposed copyright laws will break the internet irrecoverably.

Yeah but there's nothing wrong with that per se. It's the EU's choice to return to the stone age. There are Amish communities in the US where nobody has computers and their primary form of transportation is horses and buggies [1]. The rest of the world will simply move on, and like Amish communities, those in the EU that wish to participate in modern society can simply move.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amish


I'd argue the EU is "moving fast and breaking things" because the industry was incapable of self-regulating.


I think it's self regulating just fine. It's met the needs and desires of the majority. I just think Privacy advocates are a very vocal very small minority whom found themselves in power in Europe. Basically everyone save a select few would rather have the convenience Facebook has brought over the privacy GDPR tries to bring.

I assure you the majority would rather have free services than self righteous lack there of.

The majority do not want nor really care about Privacy to such an extent. The majority do not see themselves as easily manipulated, and do not see the harm.

I happen to agree and think the EU has killed the economy in the name of something no one really wants.


I think you are right. What we have here is an issue that a small percentage of people care very deeply about and others agree with them in principle but don't really care. Now that this issue is going to affect everyone in ways they notice, they will start to chime in on the other side. I think many people would rather pay for things with data than money. GDPR seems to go too far in that it doesn't even allow that (companies can't deny someone using their service if they don't opt in to tracking)


The EU parliament is democratically elected. It reflects the preferences of the majority of people, even if perhaps not perfectly. The other EU bodies are composed of people selected by national governments that are, again, democratically elected.

So the only possible argument similar to what you are saying is that in the time since the last set of elections, the population changed its preference and it's not yet reflected in the parliaments.

>I assure you the majority would rather have free services than self righteous lack there of.

It's not free if they sell your data.


You actually think that censoring the internet causes technological collapse? Have you heard of China?


These kinds of laws are symptomatic of the democratic deficit that exists in the EU. These days, the commission can pretty much push through any crazy law it likes. Because no-one is paying any attention.


And the worst part is, ALL the heads of states of EU nations are in support of this law. The council approves of it.

This means that even if you’d end the EU, these same people would still be able to pass the law.


The EU commission can get away with things that individual nations can not, because they are not subject to the same level of public scrutiny.

If a controversial law is proposed in a national parliament, then it becomes big news. A politician pushing an unpopular agenda would eventually find him/herself voted out.

But average people don't usually hear about laws the EU is creating until they're implemented. Hardly anyone had heard of the GDPR until it was too late. And the whole legislative process of the commission is opaque: you can't tell who in your government was responsible for supporting a particular position.


Yeah, that’s the one big issue with the EU - the fourth power, the media, is missing. There’s no discussion, no involvement of the public, neither the good nor bad is shown when it happens.

Instead, 4 years later, the same national politicians that wrote the law blame it on the "undemocratic" EU.


Council (assembling the member state governments) is opaque, but the directly elected European Parliament is quite transparent – more so than most national ones. Both have to agree to any Commission proposal, so theoretically being able to follow and influence one gives us, the public, veto power no matter the failings of the other.

You're absolutely right about the media.


At this point, I'm just exhausted. I'm tired of fighting this battle that we lose every single step of the way. I kind of just want privacy, expression, user safety, and free speech on the web to be dead already so we can skip the inevitable grinding progression of crushing defeats as it dies bit after bit as we expend massive amounts of effort, will, emotion, and stress campaigning against the latest in a long line of stupid ideas only to see the ratchet progress one tooth further.

The Web is on life support. It's not going to survive. I just wish we could pull the plug already instead of watching it die in slow motion like this.


The fight is far from over. We still have crypto. If that is outlawed, we'll have steganography. When that's outlawed, well, we'll still have sneakers. Iron curtain and Stalins' organs failed. Stasi failed. War on drugs is failing. We, the people, shall prevail. Have hope, brother.


A niche, encrypted deep-web for cypherpunks to serve as a channel for La Resistance(tm) would be a web that had already lost any actual reason to use it.

I use the Web to talk to people, learn things, and explore cool stuff other people made. If those other people aren't using the niche crypto/stegano services, then what am I going to use them for?

Yes, there will always be some way to have privacy online, if you're beardy enough and avoid using most popular consumer technology in favor of homegrown hackerly solutions. But a Web without the network effect is a Web that's no good at all for almost all the reasons I care. It'll be good for dissension, semi-legal activity, dubious porn, safety ... there's plenty of times that people need true privacy and security. But when your network's only good for that, then it'll still be dead in all the other ways that made the Internet so amazing.


People made copies of "forbidden" material on x-ray photos. There was samisdat (underground press). There were anticommunist anecdotes told at night in soviet kitchens. And somehow these people managed to do that without explicit permission of their government, and even under the proespect of severe punishment: incarceration, torture, labor camps and death penalty in extreme cases. Thing is, it was worth it for people who did that. Now, ask yourself: is the web as important to you that you would start using deep web, steganographics, etc., or are you just a consumer who just needs mass production? Because facebook and google and their services are here to stay: they're bigger than china and you need not worry about them; me - over the years of them fighting the web it has lost only one thing: its' individual freedom. Thing that you call the network effect, i call the tvisation of the web: there are no blogs, no self-hosted material, no homepages, only content "channels" owned by the select few: facebook and google. It has, for me, no appeal of the early, wondrous thing, only ad-riddled cancer. And so, my friend, the web is already dead in that aense, but it will continue evolving, and what i hope for is that some iteration of niche cyberpunk web will bring back the wondrous thing that was before.


Could websites exempt themselves from link tax renumeration in an automatic way with something like a robots.txt?


What if Google reacts by showing ads, as the first 20 search results, instead of normal search hits? (in Europe.)

If "normal" search results, become expensive to Google.


Playing devil’s advocate: What if the link tax will replace advertising as the main source or revenue for publishers? Wouldn’t that be a Good Thing (TM)?


Coming up next: European publishers discover that search engines preferentially link non-European publishers due to the link tax.

Coming up after that: More unexpected effects.


Coming up after that: More unexpected effects.

Which presumably most of us in Europe won't hear about, if all the sites with a link/discussion format like HN and Reddit will be faced with paying huge fees or stopping/geoblocking/etc...


Does anyone know if the transatlantic telegraph cables are still operational? We'll do our best to keep you in the loop!


I'm not sure why HN would be affected, there's no link previews or anything pulled from the article. Links themselves do not seem to be a problem if I understand right:

> This protection does not extend to acts of hyperlinking which do not constitute communication to the public.

section 33, page 19. http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2016/EN/1-2016...


I'm not sure why HN would be affected

It's not the link's address that is the problem under the questionable proposals, but rather the text that describes it. HN's normal custom is to use the original title/headline for that description, and HN's own mods actively change submissions that don't follow that policy. It looks like that could easily get them caught in the same trap as a site like Google that offers accompanying snippets.

Maybe YC would be willing to accept the risk of publishers trying to extract money from them, just as running HN itself is a favour to the community, but I see no good reason they should be expected to put up with that risk and any actual costs incurred just to continue providing a useful service that they already generously provide for free.


Yea, I don't like the current debt-based economy in the first place that treats people as consumers to be extracted from.


I believe country names in the article should be replacex by "x bureaucrats", e.g.

* Germany is standing in the way of an agreement over what the “link tax” should cover (see above).

* Austria and Italy want to extend the duration of the “link tax”.

Should be:

* Germany bureaucrats are standing in the way of an agreement over what the “link tax” should cover (see above).

* Austria and Italy bureaucrats want to extend the duration of the “link tax”.


Yay Belgium makes it better! Go Belgium!


GDPR is great. Link Tax is shit. The EU is perfectly balanced. As it should be.


Here we go... Internet will soon be completely segerated by regions, clutched by regulations and policies, and under few.

Soon to make a blog you'd need to hire 30 developers and 40 lawyers to cover specific legal issues of China, Russia, USA, EU, India, UAE, and so on.

You'd have to apply for University Grant to open a blog on diy cleaning.


Is there anything a simple citizen can do to prevent these ideas from becoming laws?


So how would this affect Hacker News?


[deleted]


This seems a highly unusual approach. Does it achieve anything at all? At least in the UK, our convention is normally that representatives only deal with their own constituents, and we have a set of MEPs for each geographical region. If you're in the UK, you can identify and contact yours via WriteToThem:

https://www.writetothem.com/


It would be great if all these new regulations only applied to companies of X size. Scrappy startups with no access to good lawyers and understanding of these regulations are more likely to suffer vs the big guys who were the cause of all of these changes in the first place.


I'm an advisor to several startup European search engines which are likely to be annihilated by the combination of these changes and the GDPR.


Now that you mention it, how are Google themselves deemed to be compliant with the GDPR? If I put up a blog containing my name and email address, and that ends up in a Google search result for my name, have I consented to this use of my personal data just because my blog is on the public web?

The infamous "right to be forgotten" (and the robots.txt standard) gives me an ability to opt-out of some uses of the data on my blog, but I thought that the GDPR is more stringent about requiring opt-in rather than opt-out.


> have I consented to this use of my personal data just because my blog is on the public web?

Yes, there's a difference between sharing information and publishing it.


Can you go into more detail about the GDPR effect? How will they be annihilated by that? Are they collecting more user data than users are aware of, and anticipate that if they told users explicitly what they're doing the business would be annihilated?


Who would start a new search engine in this day and age? You'd need some really unique features which Google can't duplicate, and the only one which seems to have made it is DDG with their privacy promise.


Google's advantage is also its Achilles heel: it is incredibly general purpose and searches the entire web.

Now how much of the web is all that useful? If a search results page on Google is just Google's opinion of what they think you want, what happens if you use a similar-enough algorithm but narrow the scope of the web you index to something more likely to contain information you can actually use?

Google today isn't even as useful to me as Google was 10 years ago. It has noticeably gotten worse. There has to be a fairly large niche there that several more specialized search engines could find a home.


As someone has suggested, not a generalist search engines. In Europe I can remember at least a couple of "price comparators" that are way better than Goggle at finding local small online shops (i.e. shops smaller than the behemoth called Amazon).

Or for example the code search engine, but I don't think it's from an European startup.


So that the access to information is more democratic? What stops Google from suppressing certain information at the request of bureaucrats or corporations? When you have a choice you are more likely to see information from different sides. Of course most people won't bother, but suppressing choice can only end up sad.


What stops Google from suppressing certain information at the request of bureaucrats or corporations?

Or at the request of certain well meaning but ultimately flawed and over reaching laws?


That doesn't make it alright for the EU to kill new entrants through regulation...


There's one at the bottom of this page, Angolia.

There's a small space for niche search engines, for sites, wikis, blogs.


Yelp apparently has a billion dollars of search ad revenue, so maybe it's not small.


Just as a side note: not every search engine is a direct competitor to Google. You can have vertical search engines serving a specific purpose. These can do very well by executing on a narrow use case. Something the Googles can’t do.


No no no, bad idea. Because then those big companies will just 'hire' small companies to do their dirty job.

I think the problem here is some of the rules in GDPR is too overkill. Those rules need to be weakened/simplified a little to allowing companies in EU and actually everywhere to flourish without worrying too much about whether or not they will accidentally violates it.


TLDR:

Excuse me, but MEP Julia Reda always uses strong languages and makes a civil liberties drama from everything (it's her job after all). AFAICT, the rights and interest at stake are

1. the commercial and moral rights of content creators (well not the content creators themselves but their original publishers)

2. the rights of providers of search engines (Google) to scrape content from news publishers to the extent that users aren't visiting the news site, but get everything from the SERP page already; it's a similar problem with Wikipedia articles presented in full or large parts on Google's SERP

3. and, unrelated but combined into the same directive, a new law that would require platforms to make an effort to detect "copyrighted" (if there were such a thing in EU law) content

Maybe there's also a law involved that would make linking to "illegally provided", "copyrighted" content unlawful.

The major pros/cons discussed are

- search engines argueing that they are executing fair use rights, and are helping to discover content which news publishers were happy with in the past and want them to continue to do

- restricting fair use rights creating a case for restrictions of other fair use such as academic or journalistic quotation

- content scanning only feasible for large platforms, thereby only helping defacto monopolies

- the two issues not belonging into the same law.

Please downvote or criticize if you have an issue with this synopsis.


To be clear, I don't have an opinion on these issues yet. I respect commercial interests of content producers. For me, making everything free for all just because it's technically feasible/trivial isn't a solution and will just result in pushing more power to platforms.

OTOH, I believe the material issue with news scraping could be very easily and practically solved by

- using RSS or other syndication format rather than full-page scraping, or using HTML metadata to limit what search engines may display

- using HTML metadata, deep linking/embedding or giving credit (like is done for photo credits) for citing larger excerpts

My gut reaction to implementing user content scanning, or any other technical details is that something like that has no place in this law. But maybe I'm misunderstanding the intent of the law, in that it's a lesser evil compared to making platforms liable for damages by uploaded "copyrighted" user content.


This threat has really degraded into irrational rants against ... whatever.

For a more balanced, still pro-civil rights view I'd recommend [1] (in German, with a focus on German parliamentary politics).

[1]: https://netzpolitik.org/2018/eu-staaten-sprechen-sich-fuer-u...


Does anyone know of a good way to comprehensively (and believably, in the eyes of the court) block the EU from your web services? It's getting out of hand, and I'd like to be able to avoid this cost in some cases.



What a disaster that only the parties which are steadily alienating voters have a stance against enabling general censorship of publishing.


So if you link to a website, you are suppose to pay the website you linked to money? That is insane... I hope this doesn't passes or I'm misunderstanding somthing.

Links pointing to something is helpful for search engine ranking, plus every link is free traffic basically... Linking seems like a good thing and beneficial to the website and other parties too. I'm sure someone who's article gets on the front page of HN would most likely to happy, but I guess HN would have to pay every website some money then?


From what I understand, 'link' is a misnomer; linking to an article is fine and always will be.

If you do a search on Google for, to use a topical example, the repeal of the 8th amendment to Ireland's constitution, the results are likely to include links to news and Wikipedia articles, as well as excerpts from those articles. This is what the directive is intended to address, the principle being that if the pertinent information is included in the excerpts on the search-engine results page, why would I bother following the link to read the full article?


Not websites in general, just press publications.


Not that either, you need to be pulling something from the article and republishing it.


This is blatant fear mongering. Furthermore, calling these directives 'link tax laws' is simply a cheap frame. You can link to articles freely. Including a snippet that has 'no independent economic significance' is allowed. Agreed, that is not very precise. But is that really such a big deal?

Sure, you might get sued. That's life. You have to trust the reasonableness of the courts. And don't worry, they won't go after you. The publishers will go after some big fish such as Telegram (which blatantly copies entire articles and strips it of everything but the article). Case law / Jurisprudence / Jurisprudentie / Fallrecht will develop around this issue and everyone will be happy.

And for some, just including a minimal snippet may not be an option. They'll have to pay. That's also life. Journalists and publishers need to eat too. Their work is too important to be allowed to wither.


She's asking that people read, learn and get involved in the process early in order to have some influence, so as not to be caught off-guard once these laws are enacted because once enacted, it'd be hard to have change happen. She's talking to a particular audience and that may not mesh with what all publishers in general want.


Sure, you might get sued. That's life. You have to trust the reasonableness of the courts. And don't worry, they won't go after you.

That line of reasoning is wrong on so many levels it's comical. And unfortunately, we keep on seeing this on the GDPR debate too.


If you don't abide by the law, you may get sued. If you do abide by the law, you may still get sued. There's no reasoning in there, it's a simple fact.

'My startup may get sued' is not a good argument against a law.




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