European MEPs Votes Against Internet Freedom, Approves Article 13

A crushing blow has been dealt on the Internet. European MEPs have voted in favour of Article 13.

Disbelief. Outrage. Despair. Sadness. Anger. Those are likely some of the emotions running through European’s right now. This is because MEPs have voted against Internet freedom and approved Article 11 and Article 13.

The vote itself? Not even close. It came down 348 votes in favour, 274 against and 36 abstentions. While European’s flooded MEPs offices with phone calls telling their representatives to vote no, big corporate publishers were busy threatening MEPs with bad publicity should they vote against the directive. In the end, heavy lobbying by corporate interests have won out over the people.

Early reaction was swift. MEP Julia Reda has issued a statement calling this a dark day in Internet history. From Gizmodo:

MEP Julia Reda has been one of the most vocal critics of the directive and tweeted this morning that it’s a “dark day for internet freedom.” Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, tweeted that the internet user “lost a huge battle today” in European Parliament. “The free and open internet is being quickly handed over to corporate giants at the expense of ordinary people,” Wales wrote. “This is not about helping artists, it is about empowering monopolistic practices.”

Journalists at this point are likely disappointed by the outcome. After all, the directive would suck their pay dry and hand it all over to big publishers. This, of course, pointed out by the European Federation of Journalists on the lead up to the vote.

Video game streamers are also equally devastated by the outcome. Now, they risk seeing their streams getting blocked due to uncertainties in copyright.

Meanwhile, small businesses are seeing their future now put in jeopardy because they will now be forced to install crippling content filters that could easily run them out of business.

Those who support freedom of expression are now seeing Europe grow more oppressive. On the international stage, the United Nations condemned the legislation for running up against free speech online.

Those who support privacy rights are also shaking their heads in disbelief that this could even happen. The German data privacy commissioner earlier pointed out that Article 13 would threaten the privacy of everyday users.

European websites now see their future in doubt as well. That is why so many participated in a massive blackout protest against the legislation.

Finally, the people. They knew what Article 11 and Article 13 was all about. That’s why more than 5 million signed a petition denouncing the legislation.

With so much despair going on, one question some people have is what happens next. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) offered some thoughts on the matter:

In a stunning rejection of the will of five million online petitioners, and over 100,000 protestors this weekend, the European Parliament has abandoned common-sense and the advice of academics, technologists, and UN human rights experts, and approved the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive in its entirety.

There’s now little that can stop these provisions from becoming the law of the land across Europe. It’s theoretically possible that the final text will fail to gain a majority of member states’ approval when the European Council meets later this month, but this would require at least one key country to change its mind. Toward that end, German and Polish activists are already re-doubling their efforts to shift their government’s key votes.

If that attempt fails, the results will be drawn-out, and chaotic. Unlike EU Regulations like the GDPR, which become law on passage by the central EU institutions, EU Directives have to be transposed: written into each member country’s national law. Countries have until 2021 to transpose the Copyright Directive, but EU rarely keeps its members to that deadline, so it could take even longer.

While there are still some skirmishes happening still, it seems that Europe is now posed to slip into chaos as civil rights crises begins to take hold. For anyone who wants to bring innovation to the continent, Europe is now closed for business.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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