European lawmakers have dealt a crushing blow to free speech. They voted to pass the infamous article 13 legislation.
It is being hailed as a massive defeat for free speech online. Europe has voted to pass Article 13 – proposed laws that have been dubbed by many as the Censorship Machine.
As we discussed at the beginning, the censorship machine laws would mandate that any website that accepts user generated content implement content filters that block any evidence of copyright infringement. Such filters have been widely criticized because they are incapable of telling the difference between infringement and perfectly legal content that uses copyrighted material for legal purposes. As such, the law is known as both the “upload filter” as well as the “censorship machine”.
The proposed laws have been widely condemned by many. Digital rights advocates initiated a European wide campaign to stop the censorship machine by urging citizens to contact their representatives and tell them to say no to the proposed censorship laws.
As time went on, the voices grew louder to stop the censorship with innovators and founders of the Internet submitting a joint letter condemning the laws. Even the United Nations joined the massive chorus telling Europe to say no to censorship, saying that the censorship machine laws is an affront to free speech and human rights.
In the end, however, European lawmakers decided that human rights should take a back seat as they voted in favour of Article 13 anyway. European Digital Rights organization EDRI expressed outrage over the vote, but still remains optimistic that the censorship laws can still be defeated:
The next step is a negotiation between the Parliament and the EU Member States. A final vote of the European Parliament on the outcome of that negotiation will take place around the end of 2018.
EDRi will continue on its efforts to inform the public and MEPs on the dangers of the proposed Copyright Directive, and will continue to offer constructive opposition to the measure in the run-up to the final plenary vote.
So, while the fallout of Europe voting in favour of Internet censorship will no doubt spread in the coming days, the fight for free speech is not over yet. One can’t help but note that momentum is certainly shifted away from human rights at this point in time.