Germany’s Article 13 “Compromise” Condemned Across the Country

After the stunning capitulation by Germany, people are beginning to digest what Article 13 is going to look like. The German people are ultimately condemning it.

It was only last month that Article 13, known as the censorship machine, was all but dead. Member states were rebelling against the directive and the laws have been universally rejected by all of the stakeholders in the debate. That has caused European citizens to breath a bit of a sigh of relief because it seemed that the legislation is going to break down.

All that changed last week when Germany surprised many by suddenly surrendering to the pressures of France. While some called it a compromise, there is no practical gains made by Germany with what was offered. Essentially, what Germany got was a rule that said if a company made less than €10,000,000 or is younger than three years old, they would be except from the crippling censorship requirements that would cost millions to implement. For most commentators, it basically delays the inevitable demise of the business operating in Europe.

One question for observers is what do the German people feel about this? Already, 4.5 million people have signed a petition condemning the legislation, so we already know that average citizens do not like it. So, what about the business community? After all, judging by the exception, this new rule is directed at them in the first place. Apparently, organizations representing the German business community have come out to strongly condemn the legislation. From EFF:

Now that a few days have passed, European individuals, businesses, lobby groups and governments have weighed in on the proposal and everyone hates it.

That German uprising that German politicians feared? It’s arrived, in force.

  • Bitkom, representing more than 2600 German businesses, from startups to small and medium enterprises, has completely rejected the proposal, calling it “an attack on the freedom of expression”;
  • Eco, lobbying for more than 1,100 businesses across Europe, said that Germany had “become weak” in its negotiating position, putting “the smallest, small, and medium-sized companies” at risk;
  • Deutschestartups tweeted their condemnation of the proposal, saying it put “stones in the way” of any European tech company hoping to grow;
  • The Berlin think tank iRights.Lab called for an “immediate and total stop” to the negotiations, so alarmed were they by their direction; while C-Netz, another think tank that serves as a kind of arms-length expert body to Germany’s mainstream political parties also denounced the deal.

One thing is for sure, the reaction from the business community is definitely understandable. If Freezenet operated under Germany’s rules, we would have easily been run out of business sometime in 2016. The reality would be that the moment this legislation is passed, we would be forced to close down. Mercifully, we don’t operate in Europe, but for European businesses, they’ve been basically put on notice that you better be a multi-billion Euro corporation before this legislation passes. Otherwise, you’re going under.

So, the natural reaction specifically for German businesses would be the feeling of outright betrayal. German negotiator and officials have the power to stop this legislation. Unfortunately, they basically threw it all away for what amounts to nothing.

At this point, it is very likely that the censorship machine as well as the link tax will make it out of the “trilogue” meetings intact. Now, with the momentum favouring multinational corporations, we are likely going to see a massive battle going up to the very end. On one side, multinational corporations and their powerful lobbyists trying to finally put an end to the free and open Internet. On other side, citizens and small businesses fighting to save free expression and the Internet.

One things for sure, with emotions already running this high, things are likely going to get ugly.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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