Once again, 2018 was no resting time for digital rights defenders. Upload filters, which seem to be considered as a fit-for-all solution, have kept us particularly mobilised the entire year. Here is a throwback to our most popular articles and publications of the year.
Weirdly enough, in January, the top read story of our website was the third edition of our Copyfails series published in June 2016. Privatised law enforcement, whereby Google and Facebook are becoming the internet police force, judging which online content should or should not be taken offline, was identified as one of the nine crucial failures of the EU copyright regime before the Commission’s reform proposal.
While everyone followed the developments of the Macedonia naming dispute handled more or less easily by the United Nations in February, readers wanted to know more about the country’s past history in terms of illegal surveillance against civil society and the crackdown on NGOs under the previous government, recounted in an article from February 2017.
Coming back to the copyright reform, the most read article in March was an update on the text before the deadline for amendments in the leading European Parliament committees, Legal Affairs (JURI) and Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).
Upload filters being a trendy tool for EU policy-makers to solve any issue online, they were also our highlight in April. Big internet companies, namely Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube, decided as part of their work within the EU Internet Forum led by the European Commission, to jointly set up a database for automatically removing “terrorist and radicalising” content from their platforms. Of course, this content monitoring takes place outside of an accountable, law-based environment.
Our analysis of what the 250 words composing Article 13 of the copyright draft proposal mean for internet freedom made it to the first place of our most read stories in May. This very short, but also intricate article includes five proposals that make internet companies liable for the content they host, filter everything and block anything according to rightsholders’ desire and give a meaningless right to complain to users.
Our readers continued to follow the copyright legislative process by extensively consulting our reaction to the amendments adopted by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee – one of the two leading committees – in June. While the Committee removed the worst elements of the Commission’s proposal on upload filters (Article 13), it failed to improve the text on the “link tax” (Article 11).
July featured the leaked amendments of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) to the copyright proposal. Our consternation about a morally unacceptable, logically and legally incompetent text that would ban legal uses of legally acquired copyrighted material attracted the most attention.
During the copyright break in August, our Italian member Hermes Center provided some summer reading by telling us the story about how the Italian Parliament extended telecoms data retention obligations and increased censorship powers of its communications regulator without judicial oversight.
Coming back from the break in September, filtering the internet remained a trendy topic as the deadline to table amendments to the proposed Copyright Directive in the JURI Committee passed. Our most read article evaluates the compromises proposed by the Rapporteur Axel Voss and confirms the compulsory filtering the text introduced.
In October, our Dutch member Bits of Freedom captivated the readers by uncovering a potential conflict of interest arising from the lawyers chosen to evaluate the EU rules on net neutrality. Indeed, the law firm Bird & Bird represents major telecom operators’ interests on matters related to the telecommunications regulatory framework, including net neutrality.
A crucial meeting on the Copyright Directive planned at the end of November led EDRi and 53 other NGOs to send a letter to the Council of the European Union. This was an urgent call to the Member States to reject any obligatory or “voluntary” coerced filters and to keep the current liability regime of internet companies intact.
When BEUC, the European Consumers Protection organisation, filed complaints against Google and its manipulative practices infringing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it was a good opportunity for us to talk about “nudging” in December. Nudging techniques help the tracking industry to guide individuals to accept invasive privacy settings, which is not in line with the GDPR principle of informed and meaningful consent.
The battle of the year: save your internet!
With no surprise, the most read article of the entire year with almost 60,000 views was about the EU Member States agreeing on monitoring & filtering of internet uploads in May 2018. The EU Council reached a consensus on the draft copyright directive to start negotiations with the European Parliament. Back then, many readers were wondering how they could influence the debate and save the internet from mass monitoring and filtering of all uploads and a link tax. The article helped readers reach out to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to tell them why they don’t like the proposal.
Indeed, EDRi followers took action this year against the copyright censorship machine. The 2018 top downloaded document with over 175,000 downloads is the list of undecided members of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) to call and convince to oppose a censored internet, filtered by automated algorithms under the control of internet giants.
EDRi provided readers with all the necessary tools to act against the proposed Copyright Directive, notably the guide to deconstruct Article 13 which was our second most downloaded document with over 33 000 downloads.
Finally, after the big success of our Privacy for Kids booklet in English in 2016, the French version was downloaded more than 15 000 times in 2018, and ranks therefore in third place.
The post Best of 2018: EDRi’s top articles and publications appeared first on EDRi.