EP Members Resist EU Plan For Upload Filters On Web

It was the ultimate plan nurtured by opponents of free speech, in particular the governments of France and Germany, and the bureaucrats who effectively run the EU, to control the content we could see on the web. Collaboration with Facebook failed because Facebook users are more interested in dying donkeys and piano playing cats than news, collaboration with Google failed because all we had to do to see the’verboten’ content was use another search engine.

But controlling what is uploaded to the web seemed like the perfect way to stop members of the public seeing content that questions the official narrative.

The EU has beeen considering a copyright proposal that would require code-sharing platforms to monitor all content that users upload for potential copyright infringement (see the EU Commission’s proposed Article 13 of the Copyright Directive). The proposal was originally aimed at music and videos on streaming platforms, based on a theory of a “value gap” between the profits those platforms make from uploaded works and what copyright holders of some uploaded works receive. as such it was well intentioned. However, the way the proposed rules were written would enable it to capture many other types of content including news and opinion.

Upload filters (“censorship machines”) are one of the most controversial elements of the copyright proposal, raising a number of concerns, including:

  • Privacy: Upload filters are a form of surveillance, effectively a “general monitoring obligation” prohibited by EU law
  • Free speech: Requiring platforms to monitor content contradicts intermediary liability protections in EU law and creates incentives to remove content
  • Ineffectiveness: Content detection tools are flawed (generate false positives, don’t fit all kinds of content) and overly burdensome, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that might not be able to afford them or the resulting litigation

The EU Parliament continues to introduce new proposals for Article 13 but these issues remain. In the embedded video Members of The European Parliament explain why they plan to reject the proposal.

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