(18.6.2018) On June 20, the EU’s legislative committee will vote on the new Copyright directive, and decide whether it will include the controversial „Article 13“ (automated censorship of anything an algorithm identifies as a copyright violation) and „Article 11“ (no linking to news stories without paid permission from the site).
We’ve pointed this out over and over again with regards to all of the various attempts to „regulate“ the internet giants of Google and Facebook: nearly every proposal put forth to date creates a regulatory regime that Google and Facebook can totally handle. Sure, they might find it to be a nuisance, but its well within the resources of both companies to handle whatever is thrown their way. However, most other companies are then totally fucked, because they simply cannot comply in any reasonable manner. And, yet, these proposals keep coming — and people keep celebrating them in the false belief that they will somehow „contain“ the two internet giants, when the reality is that it will lock them in as the defacto dominant internet players, making it nearly impossible for upstarts and competitors to enter the market.
On May 1, the developers of the Signal encrypted messaging application revealed that over the previous month, Google and Amazon took steps to stop Signal from continuing to bypass censorship measures in place in Egypt, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Workers, youth, journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates will no longer be able to use the application to send encrypted messages and evade government surveillance.
A few years ago, when the EU Commission was first considering some really bad copyright policies designed to attack fundamental principles of how the internet worked, we pointed out the many, many problems with the EU Commission’s online survey (including the fact that their survey tool was literally broken, which eventually resulted in them expanding the time that the survey could be answered). It appears that one thing the EU Commission is good at doing is pushing silly one-sided online surveys that seem uniquely designed to get people to answer in a manner that blesses whatever awful policy the EU Commission has already decided to adopt.
At the session of Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) on May 1, several changes were introduced to the Code of Administrative Offenses and the Law on Mass Media.
The changes concern media activities in wartime. Thus, Article 517-2.15 was added to Article 517, entitled „Violation of the requirements of the state of emergency“, which implies a penalty for not complying with the emergency regime in the martial law zone. The size of the fine is from 1,000 to 1,500 manat for officials, and from 6,000 to 8,000 manat for legal entities.
The government will also seek to develop a legal basis in 2019 to restrict access to piracy websites.
Critics have expressed concern that blocking certain websites violates Article 21 of the Constitution, which states: “No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.”
The writers of the Japanese constitution clearly were concerned about government censorship and specifically prohibited it.
This has not stopped the government from trying to dip its toes in these waters, chiefly by pretending that copyright infringement is something that it isn’t.
(28.3.2018) Should the European Commission’s proposal for an extra copyright for news sites become law, restricting how we can share news online?
After repeated delays, MEP Axel Voss (EPP) has just released his proposal for the European Parliament’s position. His view? The Commission proposal for the “link tax” does not go far enough!
After he already advocated giving the green light to “censorship machines”, Voss wants the Parliament to double down on another disastrous law that would limit freedom of expression on the internet. It’s a direct attack on who big publishers feel threatened by: Internet platforms and web startups, as well as smaller, more innovative competitors.
(26.3.2018) A judge holds that YouTube isn’t a „public forum“ run by a „state actor.“
When it comes to censorship in the name of copyright, we’ve made the point time and again that opening this door an inch will cause supporters of censorship to try to barge through and open it all the way. Inevitably, when a population tries to satiate the entertainment industry by giving them just a little censorship, that industry will ask for more and more and more.
A good example of this can be seen right now in Australia. Like far too many countries, Australia began a site-blocking practice three or so years ago. Currently, the Department of Commnications is asking for feedback on the effectiveness of this practice as well as feedback on each step in the process itself. The way it works in Australia is that rightsholders have to get an initial injunction which then winds its way to a site being blocked as a „pirate site.“ Well, for the largest entertainment industry groups in Australia, the feedback is essentially, „This is great, let’s censor even more!“
Italy is rolling out new laws to deal with „fake news.“ The Italian government can’t define this term precisely, but apparently assumes it will know it when it sees it. And the rest of the country is encouraged to „see something, say something,“ thanks to the government’s online portal which will allow brigaders and hecklers to cleanse the web of things they don’t like. Even if some of it stays up, those reported will possibly still have to spend some time interacting with government employees, which will mostly be a waste of everyone’s time.
And that’s just the bureaucratic side of it. This portal will link to law enforcement so Italy’s uniformed cyberwarriors can go harass citizens over alleged fakery the government can’t even clearly define.