By Diego Naranjo

A Council of the European Union document leaked by Statewatch on 30 August reveals that during the summer months, that Estonia (current EU Presidency) has been pushing the other Member States to strengthen indiscriminate internet surveillance, and to follow in the footsteps of China regarding online censorship. Standing firmly behind its belief that filtering the uploads is the way to go, the Presidency has worked hard in order to make the proposal for the new copyright Directive even more harmful than the Commission’s original proposal, and pushing it further into the realms of illegality.

According to the leaked document, the text suggests two options for each of the two most controversial proposals: the so-called “link tax” or ancillary copyright and the upload filter. Regarding the upload filter, the text offers two alternatives:

  • Option A maintains the Commission’s original proposal of having in place an upload filter which will be under the control of platforms and other companies that are hosting online content. Although it removes mentions to “content recognition technologies”, in reality, there is no way to “prevent the availability” (another expression which remains in the text) of certain content without scanning all the content first.
  • Option B is, at best, a more extreme version of Option A. In fact, it seems so extreme that it almost makes the first option look like a reasonable compromise. This may, of course, be the “diplomatic” strategy. In this extreme option, the text attacks again the liability regime of the e-commerce Directive – which, bizarrely, would not be repealed, leaving us with two contradictory pieces of EU law but adds a “clarification” of what constitutes a “communication to the public”. This clarification establishes that platforms (and its users) would be liable for the copyright infringing content uploaded by its users.

The proposals in this leak highlight a very dangerous roadmap for the EU Member States, if they were to follow the Presidency’s lead. The consequences of these flawed proposals can only be prevented if civil society and EU citizens firmly raise their voices against having a censorship machine in the EU. We will be turning on our call tool at savethememe.net before each of the key votes in the European Parliament. Make use of the tool, and call your representatives to stop the #censorshipmachine!

Estonia loves digital – why is it supporting the #censorshipmachine? (07.09.2017)
https://edri.org/estonia-loves-digital-why-is-it-supporting-the-censorshipmachine

No, you can’t enjoy the music you paid for, says EU Parliament Committee (05.07.2017)
https://edri.org/no-you-cant-enjoy-the-music-you-paid-for-says-eu-parliament/

Proposed Copyright Directive – Commissioner confirms it is illegal (28.06.2017)
https://edri.org/proposed-copyright-directive-commissioner-confirms-it-is-illegal/

EU Copyright Directive – privatised censorship and filtering of free speech (10.11.2016)
https://edri.org/eu-copyright-directive-privatised-censorship-and-filtering-of-free-speech/

Copyright reform: Document pool
https://edri.org/copyright-reform-document-pool/

(Contribution by Diego Naranjo, EDRi)

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