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German Data Privacy Commissioner Says Article 13 Inevitably Leads to Filters (eff.org)
152 points by DiabloD3 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 57 comments

I'm currently creating an online platform with user generated content.

I'm based in Belgium, but if this bill passes, it leaves me no choice but to take my company abroad. Funny how the EU tries to compete with US startups and multinationals, with various incentives, and then tries to get this crap enforced on all of these same companies within the EU.

Bunch of idiots.

Although I live within the EU, I hope various companies will block access to their services.

The EU doesn’t really need to compete since they can get as much revenue as they want with regulatory fines. They don’t care if you go abroad since if you get big they will find a way to get their money.

So we will have automated censoring. What a world we have to live in. Do the MEPs really do not understand what they are building?

Why, they do perfectly - their careers and their retirement plans.

Not if we can get everybody to vote them out. We need more public attention for this. There are plenty of people who will be hurt by this who blindly vote for the parties that support this.

here is a list by Julia Reda of MP's who voted for it

"These MEPs voted to restrict the internet in Europe today – but we’re not giving" up https://juliareda.eu/2018/06/not-giving-up/

this is a global fight imo and people need to speak up. e.g. Australia is right now struggling with the damaging effects of the AAbill ... there was a similar list (iirc) Asher Wolf from the cryptoparty_AU shared the link but I can't find it any more.

It's not going to happen. The number of voters in EP elections is low and the main parties at home will devote their resources on these elections.

If the number of voters is low, it's actually easier to mobilise voters to vote against the people who support Article 13.

also the most effective way is to write a letter or call them in person (engaging them on facebook etc has little value in comparison)


For those in Germany they can use this service to help them assemble a letter to be send by post https://botbrief.eu/

This site also helps you call them directly https://pledge2019.eu (please be polite - the best way we can win them is not by acting like we don't know what we're talking about)

Don't forget to write to newspapers and other traditional media about this. Some politicians care more about those than about what's on the internet, and it has the added benefit of informing more people about this.

I'm not sure this is MEPs doing, laws are made by the council I think, and then voted on by MEPs

Horrendous law with an incredibly severe consequences to us all. And I'm saying this as the one benefiting most as my company is the ultimate upload filter (we are orders of magnitude larger than Content ID [0]).

We are not going to stand by idly and let it to wipe out all competition because they can't afford to be compliant with this idiotic law. As such, we are making our services free to all rights holders and platforms [1]. This is the best way we, as a company, can fight the law and make sure that it will have the least negative impact as possible.

[0] https://twitter.com/synopsi/status/1102655191654981632

[1] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CLybxCFg_gz4n62UqVr3XEsy...

Well, thanks. But using your service doesn't feel like "fighting the law". It's just complying with the law by being dependent on one generous external company.

I (as a European consumer) would rather prefer that the big platforms like youtube/reddit/facebook just shut down their European presence in response to these kind of laws.

> I (as a European consumer) would rather prefer that the big platforms like youtube/reddit/facebook just shut down their European presence in response to these kind of laws.

You know the complete opposite will happen. Those are literally the only ones that can comply "easily" with the law. What about the rest?

> Well, thanks. But it doesn't feel like "fighting the law". It's just complying with the law by being dependent on one generous external company.

I'm on this with you. I'm European living in US. I don't want this law any more you do. I'm still hoping the law is going to be dropped. But even then, the law will eventually come back in some form or shape. So we are trying to find a sustainable way for others to comply with it and be able to compete with the giants.

Why aren't American Internet giants react like it was done with SOPA?

The author of the piece take a guess:

> But if a company is too small to afford licenses, it's also too small to build filters. Google's Content ID for YouTube cost a reported €100 million to build and run, and it only does a fraction of the blocking required under Article 13. That means that they'll have to buy filter services from someone else. The most likely filter vendors are the US Big Tech companies like Google and Facebook, who will have to build and run filters anyway, and could recoup their costs by renting access to these filters to smaller competitors.

Because they benefit.

How? E.g.: Google wouldn't be able to display website content descriptions for free anymore (OK, they are allowed to display a few words of the description).

I understand that content creators will benefit most (e.g. news sites).

Who will be able to run infrastructure in terms of money and people that will fulfill the requirements of Article 13? Only the big players.

So, let Article 13 take place and lots of competition will vanish.

Sure, I am with you. However, I also don't see how Google can continue with its business model in Europe when Article 13 goes into effect.

Ah, they will find their way. Make some concessions, cry about the laws, show some figures and bribe some politicians. In the end there will be exceptions which are strangely well-tailored for those big players...

Regulation is good for the big guys. It hurts Google less than it hurts competition.

This isn't true, and never has been true. It's a constant cry of the monopolist to claim regulations help them. It's a lie we need to stop propagating and giving attention to.


It's totally a thing and actually happens a lot. See AT&T.

The main issue you are missing is that Google and Netflix are screaming desperately, and spending billions funding groups decrying that "oh no, our monopolies will be protected if these laws are passed".

Myths aside, these companies are not complaining about repealing net neutrality[1], copyright reform, etc. out of the goodness of their hearts and their desires to protect competition or the free internet or whatever other nonsense they're peddling. They're lying about the impact because they want to continue to rake in profits at the expense of everyone else, and they well know the changes in the law that are coming are going to turn off the free faucet.

[1]The irony of this one in particular, is that net neutrality assures regulatory capture. ;)

What Cory misses is that the proposed legislation is technically impossible to implement. Even giants like Facebook and Google cannot do content violation filtering on every media, like text submitted by text area boxes ("citations" over de copying the minimis limit), sound and video. Maintaining hashes of protected content is also technically impossible. Who's gone decide which data will get processed, and from where?

Only the previous legislation is technically implementable, the current proposal will make user input on all European websites illegal, like Hacker news, reddit, WordPress blogs with comments, wikis like wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook,... you name it. Since Article 13 is such a monumental fuckup people will either ignore it, leading to risk of becoming a random target, or disable all userinput at all. which will be the death of internet 2.0 in europe.

even a theoretical central filtering service will not be able to solve this problem, because registering and filtering all worldwide protected content is not feasible. there will be 5% of some big studios and press agencies content hashed, but not much else. adding legislation on this idea is just destructive. the previous legislation is the only practical and useful way.

> Since Article 13 is such a monumental fuckup people will either ignore it, leading to risk of becoming a random target

Not random target, it's by design, first make a law that almost all website owners break, then you are free to punish whoever you want.

The future looks bleak for Europe. If this continues, in a few years you woldn't be able to criticize politicians online or uncover corruption they're involved in.

I'm waiting for the inevitable EU firewall that will ultimately be required to aggressively control all Internet usage for anyone in the EU.

It can end no other way than that. Particularly as these draconian regulations continue to get worse. How else will they enforce these policies against foreign entities that can trivially ignore them while still serving EU users? They have to put a stop to that, as it's an easy circumvention.

I can build a service in the US. Allow EU citizens to sign up. Entirely disregard most, if not all, EU laws. Monetize the huge US market first as a cash springboard. Acquire scale. Then turn on EU monetization when it's convenient to deal with the regulatory challenges there. There might be considerable retroactive fines involved for ignoring EU law over time while still taking on EU users (when you attempt to monetize the EU users, requiring business on the ground in the EU, that's when they'd land punches financially; the retroactive approach would be the solution the politicians would come up with as a desperate stop-gap against this approach); so what, I'm now a monopoly platform, I already won, hit me with your speeding ticket. If you make the speeding ticket too large, I'll demonetize the EU users, remove all business from the EU, ignore any fines, retain the EU users anyway to prevent competition, and keep going (come back later and see if I can lobby/bribe the EU politicians in some kind of fine settlement).

The sole means to stop that scenario - which is almost obnoxiously beneficial to furthering US dominance in platforms - is to lock down all Internet usage in the EU and dictate by permission what sites may be used. The tighter they get with Article 13 style regulations, the more likely they have to implement an EU firewall.

The scenario you described, unfortunately, makes too much sense.

Furthermore, I think this type of legislative arbitrage has already been in play, for the current compliance requirements. It sometimes works the other way around too, and I'd say Spotify was a succesful play that bypassed the negative US climate for media streaming startups, left by Napster.

There is other ways to curb that though. I doubt the current POTUS is willing to play ball, but a future one might sign a mutually beneficial agreement that enables the courts of the EU to go after US based companies for things like taxes and fines, and visa versa, for a small well defined set of things. I think this is just as much a possibility since the internet is truly international and require international corporation.

Which draconian regulations continue to get worse? I'm only aware of article 13, which hasn't passed yet.

GDPR. It has some good parts, but a lot of bad in it as well.

You're going to be searching for a long time to find a piece of legislation that only has good parts in it. The GDPR is overwhelmingly positive, and a massive step towards ensuring privacy online.

In my opinion, it has been pretty overwhelmingly a net positive, whereas article 13 is a clusterfuck that made me come up with a Cloudflare rule to block EU visitors from accessing sites (and yes, that includes myself):


If anyone from Cloudflare is reading this, can we get a "redirect" firewall rule so I can point the visitors to something like "you can't access that site because the politicians you voted for are morons"?

I don't need a legislation to only have good parts in it, but I do want it to do more good than bad. GDPR does not do that. The harm it causes for internet businesses in the EU in the long term is going to be too much. It's already making EU companies less competitive[1] and it'll become worse as time goes on.

[1] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3278912

Yes, all regulation makes companies less competitive than unregulated companies. That's why you regulate everyone.

Whats the harm of the GDPR?

Less competitive companies means that we won't have these types companies in the EU. We are already doing very poorly when it comes to anything related to computer technology and this will make it even worse.

The GDPR is pretty sane and not very hard to comply with, unless you're being scummy. I'd rather not have scummy companies, even if that means we won't be competitive.

To implement an internet 'firewall' in the EU first they will first have to come up with a less contentious term than firewall. Too many negative connotations re. China and authoritarianism. Even non-tech people in the EU would get riled up about any EU firewall.

EU politicians are experts at rebranding stuff like this. Just look at the article 13 discussion. They started out with upload filters, but when people criticized that they changed the wording so that it doesn't say upload filters, but it will still bring upload filters. Or look at Macron. He's railing against nationalism while instituting national service for 16 year olds "so they can learn to be more involved in society" and mandates French flags in classrooms.

EU politicians love rewording things and pretending that they're different.

Don't get why this is getting voted down. This scenario is on the gloomy side, but also insightful and a little too plausible for comfort.

I think it's going to be more like a reverse firewall, so to say: non-EU companies geo blocking IP addresses of EU origin. This is already happening because of the GDPR. We might lose access to sites like Reddit and maybe even GitHub from inside the EU. I don't think the parties pushing for this legislation are fully aware of how deeply this might impact the technology sector, directly and especially indirectly.

Github is (thankfully) excepted

This "EU firewall" already exists. If a website violates European law but is hosted in a foreign country, ISPs may be ordered to block access to it. The US has a similar system in place, I believe.

What makes you think this would be even remotely reasonable to conclude?

The Great Firewall exists to prevent Chinese citizens from accessing politically subversive content. The only EU equivalent I can think of is Germany blacklisting certain illegal content providers (i.e. nazis and child porn) that can't easily be shut down.

The reason access to child porn (or marketplaces for illegal substances) is prohibited is that possession and distribution is illegal and therefore even mere use of the services may constitute a crime (even if users don't distribute the illegal goods themselves).

The reason access to nazi sites is disrupted is that these sites are actively inciting racial hatred, holocaust denialism etc. So if you want to make a Great Firewall analogy this is probably the closest equivalent.

The GDPR specifically defines human rights and a mechanism to enforce those for EU residents (i.e. reporting violations to supervising data protection agencies which may use fines when the violator refuses to comply or acts too maliciously). Blocking those sites wouldn't make sense as the users aren't doing anything wrong by accessing those sites (it's the sites that are abusing the users).

The copyright reform also doesn't really target users -- article 13 just eliminates the safe harbor provision that allows file sharing services to distance themselves from the content they host. Access to those sites is not illegal and access to illegally hosted content is treated no differently in the EU than in the US.

In other words, aside from the usual anti-consumerist fearmongering about the GDPR your argument could have been made equally well when the US started shutting down the initial wave of file sharing services (from Napster all the way to MEGA). But instead it turned out to be more profitable to just sue people on a case by case basis.

The sheer irony of hearing people get their tinfoil hats in a bunch over the inevitability of an EU firewall because of a copyright reform that neatly dovetails the copyright overreach the US has tried to push in Europe for decades just because this time it's European newspaper publishers instead of RIAA and MPAA is physically painful to me at this point.

Are you not displaying Whataboutism / Tu Quoque here?

How is it relevant for the question whether the EU will need / institute filters that the US as a disagreeable copy-right system?

Citing irrelevant logical fallacies is not an argument. Also way to "move the goalposts" (see? I can do it too). It's relevant to the alleged inevitability of a Chinese-style firewall in the EU.

If it wasn't inevitable in the US and if it wasn't inevitable when it was only RIAA/MPAA enforcing copyright, what is different this time?

Article 13 restricts the safe harbor provision to sites using upload filters (or sites that are explicitly exempt). There is no logical progression from that to a Great Firewall that wouldn't also have been present in US enforcement of copyright against Napster, The Pirate Bay, MEGA etc.

The GDPR (even if most neo-libs here think it's evil incarnate) is entirely orthogonal to literal censorship.

As I said, the closest thing would be the blocking (in Germany, not the EU) of nazi propaganda and extremely illegal content (read: child abuse) -- which have nothing to do with the recent EU legislations and are therefore an entirely separate discussion to be had.

Maybe the UK's "opt-out" modesty filter also falls in this category but as Theresa May is still happy to point out, the UK is leaving the EU, so it's hardly a good reference point for the future of EU legislation.

So if none of these things uniquely point to a future of Chinese-style censorship in the EU, what other than American Exceptionalism makes the current situation different from all the other situations in which we did not end up with said Great Firewall of Europe?

Article 13 is bad. Upload filters are bad. But please educate me how making unsubstantiated claims about how the EU is basically already China is supposed to be contributing to a healthy discussion but providing and then dismantling the obvious arguments OP chose to omit is somehow fallacious and irrelevant?

This comes as a surprise to no one but Axel Voss.

Nah there are a lot of artists that think it's just fine to censor the entire internet so that they can make more money

James Blunt is one of them https://twitter.com/CDU_CSU_EP/status/1098531302490468352 and "helping" the CDU campaign

According to the following tweets, this video is not in regard to article 13. They just reused some old video there and put it falsely into this new context.

Only a few days from most signed petition in human history? If true, very impressive.

A little off-topic and a real mental leap, but wayback (hundreds of years), the katholic church was the one with a information-monopoly (dome-building, history and mint studies for example) crawled with the years by the principle of syncretism. All the katholic church had to do, was to use their 'Leitungsschutz' (german word) to make their bucks... history... info-bits -sure... ^^

If advisory of German specialists from the either side will make the internet in the EU anything like the internet in Germany, in any regard, people will be really pissed. Kindly bugger off and let decide those from the places were the internet works.

That comment makes no sense in this context.

It does in a way. Article 13 is largely a product of French and German politicians. Just because the German data commissioner says something like this doesn't mean there aren't plenty of German politicians eager to implement Article 13.

It's omitting a lot of context.

Article 13 (and 11) is heavily inspired by pre-existing laws and drafts in Germany (and France), which are heavily lobbied by print publishers (much like US copyright law legislation is heavily lobbied by the MPAA and RIAA).

So while the changes aren't as controversial in Germany (although e.g. the Leistungsschutzrecht is still fairly recent and controversial) they're not likely to be as easily accepted throughout the rest of the EU.

Of course the obvious caveat is that MEPs don't necessarily vote in alignment with their country's population. Because of the lower voter turnout they have fewer constituents while they're also a more lucrative target for industrial lobbying.

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