Lobbying Organizations Continue to Insist Article 13 is All About YouTube

Major corporate lobbying organizations are out trying to change the channel on Article 13. They are insisting it’s all about YouTube and blame the platform for “misinformation”.

Article 13, known as the censorship machine, would crack down on platforms instrumental for promoting free speech online. It would do so by mandating that platforms to install upload filters that do not recognize cornerstones of free speech such as critical examination, satire, and education.

The debate over censorship has gotten so heated that the notorious International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has backed out of the debate even though they were one of the original lobbying organizations demanding article 13 be implemented.

While supporters of the proposed censorship machine may be few and far between, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist at all. Recently, IMPALA, AIM, CISAC, BASCA, IMRO, and PRS for Music tried launching a Hail Mary attack on YouTube over the debate. They say that it is unfair that YouTube be allowed to have a say on the matter and accused the platform of spreading what they call “misinformation”. From Music Business Worldwide:

Said the collective in its letter to Wojcicki: “Moreover, YouTube enabled the propagation of misinformation – such as the claims that Article 13 would lead to the shutting down of YouTube channels, kill European startups, put an end to memes and gifs and harm freedom of speech.

“In other words: change the Internet as we know it. Such scaremongering deliberately ignores the special protections provided in the text and misleads public opinion.

“It interferes with the democratic and balanced debate that all European citizens are entitled to. We believe it is totally unfair and unacceptable that your service, which dominates the online market, is exclusively used as a media service to promote your own commercial interests in a debate over European legislation.”

To remedy what it sees as YouTube having “taken advantage of [its] considerable influence over 1.8 billion monthly users”, the collective has requested that during the week of March 18-24 YouTube allows it to message YouTubers and place banner ads on YouTube’s network.

While the organizations are insisting that everything is coming from YouTube, that is obviously not true. As we recently reported, criticism about how it would negatively impact free speech came from sources outside of YouTube. In fact, concerns about freedom of expression actually originated from the United Nations.

Moreover, Axel Voss, the man behind article 13, yesterday admitted that the laws are, in fact, about filtering content. So, at this point in time, there is no debate about whether or not this law is about filtering. Everyone knows it is and the person who wrote the laws publicly said that it is in fact about filtering.

Meanwhile, the criticism that it would kill small business actually comes from organizations that represent European small businesses.

Additionally, the insistence that European’s should have a say is a pretty bizarre call. This is because European’s are planning to hit the streets to protest the laws. The number of expected protests so far is pretty much wallpapering Europe at this point in time. This over top of the online petition against Article 13 which, earlier this month, managed to become the most signed petition in human history. So, at this point, European’s are not only speaking out about this, but overwhelmingly oppose the legislation.

On top of that, the additional call to be permitted to run ads supporting Article 13 is equally bizarre because there’s nothing stopping these organizations from contacting YouTube and purchasing ad space on the platform. Why the need for the letter in the first place is quite a mystery. There’s really only two possibilities with that:

The first possibility is that YouTube is not permitting such ads to run. Judging by the letter, there is no indication that YouTube is denying the ad space.

The second possibility is that they are wanting to run ads for free. For that, one has to keep in mind the simple fact that YouTube is run by Alphabet which is a publicly traded company. In short, they are a business, not a governmental organization. So, the idea that they should somehow oblige these organizations in this manner is quite weird because the obvious answer is “no”.

At this point, European’s have already made up their minds. They know the laws are bad. They are going to fight this tooth and nail to the bitter end. The few remaining lobbyists are going to dig their heals in and try to push the Internet censorship agenda. If this letter is meant to try and win over political support, it’s likely going to fall flat and wind up being a case of preaching to the choir. So, it’s highly questionable what this letter is even meant to accomplish exactly.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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