European Digital Rights Activists Warns About EU Censorship Machine

European digital rights activists are renewing calls to fight the “censorship machine”. It is also known as the upload filter.

Free speech in Europe is under threat. That is what digital rights advocates are warning about. The warnings stem from a 2016 proposal that would mandate web platforms censor content. More specifically, if a user can upload content, then it is up to the platform to put copyright filters in place to prevent the uploading of alleged copyrighted material.

YouTube has a ContentID system in place that filters for copyrighted material. That system has been heavily criticized for not respecting fair use. Instead, it just assumes that content that it detects is infringing. Either that content is demonetized, filtered based on location, or blocked completely. What these laws mandate is that such regimes should be put in place on every platform that takes in user generated content.

As such, digital rights advocates are warning of the consequences of such filtering. They say that it would not only lead to outright censorship, but also personal censorship for users who want to “play it safe”. As such, they have labelled the upload filter the “censorship regime”.

Now, a crucial vote is being in the legal affairs committee (JURI). That vote will take place on somewhere between the 20th and 21st of this month. Some MEPs (Member of European Parliament) say that they already support the censorship machine while others say they will oppose it.

European Digital Rights (EDRI) is saying that there are campaigns starting up to call MEP’s to tell them to stop the censorship machine. From EDRI:

In the past weeks, organisations in Romania, The Netherlands and the UK have phoned the key undecided MEPs. Next week, campaigns will be launched in Spain and phonecall meetings will take place in Bulgaria. The EDRi office will mobilise and spend an hour on Tuesday the 5th of June contacting targeted MEPs. The SaveYourInternet movement is also planning a call storm on the 12th of June. Are you going to join us in calling the crucial undecided JURI MEPs? Here’s what you can do:

– Grab your phone and call ! Here’s some tips on best practices, a suggestion for a call script and a free calling tool.
– Organise NGOs and friends in a gathering. We prepared guidance for organising and conducting meetings. Easy-peasy, trust us!

Get in touch at andreea.belu(at)edri.org for more materials and coordination tips or if you want to share how your call session went.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation for any developments we come across.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.


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