EU Copyright Directive Article 13 Would Make Internet A ‘Tool For Control’ Or ‘Will Censor Internet Users’?

What is Article 13?

Article 13 of the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright in the Digital Single Market, to give it its full name, is an attempt to reshape copyright law for the internet age. It’s based around the relationship between copyright holders and online platforms, compelling the latter to enforce tighter regulation over protected content.

 A European parliament committee has voted for legislation that internet pioneers fear will turn the web into “a tool for surveillance and control”.

one of the most controversial provisions, article 13, would require platforms, such as Google and Microsoft, to install filters. It was adopted by the committee by 15 votes to 10.

Earlier in June, an open letter signed by 70 of the biggest names of the internet, including the creator of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, and the Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, argued that article 13 would take “an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.

“The damage that this may do to the free and open internet as we know it is hard to predict, but in our opinions could be substantial,” the letter said.

MEPs has voted on the proposed copyright directive on 20-21 June.

The plans still have to be agreed with representatives from the EU’s 28 governments before becoming law, but the vote reduces the chances of serious changes.

Opponents of the law vowed to fight on when the legislation comes before all MEPs for a final vote.

“I will challenge this outcome and request a vote in the European parliament next month,” said the Green MEP Julia Reda, who has been leading opposition to the law. “We can still overturn this result and preserve the free internet.”

The UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, has also raised concerns about “prepublication censorship”, with automatic filters being unable to detect fair comment, satire, criticism and parody.

Monique Goyens, the director general of the European Consumer Organisation, said MEPs had failed to find a solution to benefit consumers and creators. “The internet as we know it will change when platforms will need to systematically filter content that users want to upload. The internet will change from a place where consumers can enjoy sharing creations and ideas to an environment that is restricted and controlled.”

Axel Voss, the centre-right MEP who is steering the proposal through parliament, rejected the criticism. “No one is and no one will ever filter the internet,” he said in a statement, while defending the central idea. “These platforms make a considerable profit on the works uploaded by its users, so they can’t simply hide behind the argument that it is the users who are uploading, while the platform is making money from it.”


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