EU rules could ‘destroy the Internet as we know it’

The European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs has voted for controversial Internet rules that could fundamentally change how the Internet is able to work, in Europe at least (I don’t know if the rules could apply elsewhere in the world).

They have been dubbed a ‘link tax’, and ‘censorship machines’. Both would make operating a site like this not worth the effort or cost.

The rules still require approval by the European Parliament, but they are causing major concern, for good reason.


An EU committee has approved two new copyright rules that campaigners warn could destroy the internet as we know it.

The two controversial new rules – known as Article 11 and Article 13 – introduce wide-ranging new changes to the way the web works.

Article 11 would have the effect of severely limiting linking to and part quoting news sites, something that a lot of the dissemination of information relies on and is a key to online discussion.

Article 11 introduces a “link tax”, requiring that internet companies get permission from publishers to use a snippet of their work. On websites like Google and Twitter, for instance, a small part of the article is usually shown before someone clicks into it entirely – but, under the new rule, those technology companies would have get permission and perhaps even pay to use that excerpt.

Facebook would similarly be affected.

It would also probably make it impossible in practical terms for blogs like most political discussion blogs to operate as they now do.

Article 13 would add to administrative difficulties for large operators like Google, Twitter and Facebook, and would make running smaller sites like this not worth the cost and effort.

Article 13 has been criticised by campaigners who claim that it could force internet companies to “ban memes”. It requires that all websites check posts against a database of copyrighted work, and remove those that are flagged.

That could mean memes – which often use images taken from films or TV shows – could be removed by websites. The system is also likely to go wrong, campaigners say, pointing to previous examples where automated systems at YouTube have taken down a variety of entirely innocent posts.

Smaller sites might not even be able to maintain such a complicated infrastructure for scanning through posts, and therefore might not be able to continue to function, activists claim.

TNW also describes the rules in EU votes for memes ban and censorship machines — what now?

Article 11 (a.k.a. link tax) would force anyone using snippets of journalistic online content to get a license from the publisher first — essentially outlawing current business models of most aggregators and news apps. This can also possibly threaten the hyperlink and give power to publishers at the cost of public good.

Article 13 (a.k.a. censorship machines) will make platforms responsible for monitoring user behavior to stop copyright infringements, but basically means only huge platforms will have the resources to let users comment or share content. People opposed to the proposal worry that this could lead to broader censorship, threatening free speech via parody, satire, and even protest videos.

The rules still have to pass through the European Parliament.

The committee’s vote doesn’t automatically make the Copyright reform and its controversial articles law. Instead, it cements the European Parliament’s stance on the issue — which is highly influential — before entering the final stage of the legislation process.

However, there is a way to change that. Plenary is the European Parliament’s tool to bring matters out of committee and put up for a vote in the Parliament itself, i.e. have all 751 MEPs vote instead of only 25. But there needs to be enough support in Parliament for this to happen, so opposers have already started campaigning for a plenary session.

If passed I think that this would have an adverse effect on many news websites, who rely on quotes and linking to promote and circulate their news.

Many news sites deliberately use Twitter and Facebook to attract readers and viewers to their own sites.

And I doubt they will appreciate the administration overhead of responding to all requests to link, unless they simply ignore them all.

The rules could also have a chilling effect on online discussion. In New Zealand some news sites allow discussion on their own sites, but most don’t, they rely on Facebook and Twitter to facilitate discussion.

EU rules would probably have a limited effect here in New Zealand, if any. I don’t know if the EU could impose or police their rules outside their own region. And if they could it would only apply to European news sources – it would create a censorship wall between the EU and the rest of the world.

So if passed by the European Parliament the proposed rules may only destroy the Internet as they know it in Europe – unless it had wider jurisdiction.

What if a trade agreement between New Zealand and the EU was dependent on abiding by their Internet rules?

If the proposed rules applied here now I would not have been able to post about it like this.

Thanks to ‘soundhill’ who brought this to my attention at Kiwiblog.

Leave a comment


  1. Casey Jones

     /  26th June 2018

    But if this caught on, and ‘wa introduced here, there’d be no cutting and pasting massive chunks on other people’s creative work here, right?

    • And there would be no cutting and pasting of ‘massive chunks’ of other people’s creative work that fill a lot of news stories on the major media either.

      It would stop making a news story out of a tweet. What would the herald, Stuff, Newshub et al do then? What would Trump do then?

      NB: I have never had any media company complain about promoting their creative work here. There are often mutual benefits to quoting and linking.

  2. Pickled Possum

     /  26th June 2018

    this fits right in with Article 17 EU GDPR – Right to erasure (‘right to be forgotten’)

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU.

    Privacy and data protection may not matter to many outside of Europe. But this will change on 25 May 2018 when new EU privacy laws will coerce global businesses with links to the continent to comply with the General Data Protection Rules (GDPR).

    The extraterritorial scope of the GDPR means that some New Zealand organisations and businesses need to review their internal data processing procedures or risk hefty fines for non-compliance.

  3. PartisanZ

     /  26th June 2018

    Perfect example of Corporate-Capitalist-Politics … (CCP) …

    The EU Parliament is the “fall guy” in this … acting on behalf …

    The implication is that the “large open web operators” are not playing the CCP game, which, of course, is heavily reliant on the control and manipulation of information …

    “Erasure” fits perfectly into that scenario …

    They’ll contemplate a “link tax” but resist at all costs a financial transactions tax that could eradicate most poverty in one fell swoop …

  4. Gerrit

     /  26th June 2018

    Another EU bureaucratic blunder that hurts themselves and no other. Do you really think search engines like Yandex (Russian) and Baidu (Chinese) will pay link tax?

    What planet are these bureaucrats on.

    How will they collect the link tax from a blog like this one? Have a bean counter sit and monitor this site?

    And every site in the universe? Even those based in Russia?

    One could expect to see large server farms set up in Caribbean tax havens and who would proudly hold up the middle finger to the cardigan wearing beige brigade in Europe.

    With so much infrastructure based on the internet, no one can take a portion of it down anymore to stop link whoring. Let alone even think they can control the uncontrollable.

    China is trying and has some success in letting the internet into the country (for trading purposes) but having a firewall that prevents the plebs having access to and interacting with foreign media.

    Scarier would be if the EU instigated a Chinese Social Credit Score scheme. The state being an all seeing instrument to monitor its citizens and reward social “good” behaviour
    whilst “punishing” social bad behaviour.

    Total control in other words, by using the internet to monitor and rate behaviour.

    Freedom comes at a price. Just imagine not having the freedom to call Trump a fascist.

    • PartisanZ

       /  26th June 2018

      So, let me get this right … It’s impossible to do but China is doing it?

      In an Inverted Totalitarian State, bureaucracy is part of corporate government – government being the ‘governance arm’ of business – hence the issue becomes the degree of control of information necessary to facilitate enough manipulation to constitute a “managed democracy” … Plainly the open web threatens this …

      “Democracy and hegemony is coupled by means of managed democracy, where the elections are free and fair but the people lack the actual ability to change the policies, motives and goals of the state.” – Sheldon Wolin

      • Gerrit

         /  26th June 2018

        You are confusing two different control mechanisms that the EU is trying to instigate. One is the link tax (article 11). That I suggest will be 100% beyond the control and revenue collection of the EU.

        The second is access or censorship (article 13). China is doing its best to control (censor) the internet through use of their Great Fire Wall and through their Social Credit Score regime.

        To do this they require all internet traffic to choke through a central point.

        This is worth a read to understand that a measure of freedom in a country can be measured by how many access points there are via the internet to the outside world.

        China has basically one. Democracies in general have many. The example of Egypt and the control of the internet access during the spring uprising is interesting.

        • PartisanZ

           /  26th June 2018

          Cheers, appreciate the link …

          I still reckon you and most others are confusing EU bureaucrats with something other than corporate-capitalist-governance …

          • PartisanZ

             /  26th June 2018

            One might say … Corporate-Capitalism is the new Church … and separation of Church and State has not occurred yet …

            Indeed, it has barely been mooted …

            Certainly not the Pope, Bishops or Cardinals, bureaucrats are nevertheless the new ‘parish clergy’ and rectors of this unholy alliance …

            • Gezza

               /  26th June 2018

              Getting a bit too carried away now.

            • PartisanZ

               /  27th June 2018

              Au contrere monsieur … A well thought out analogy I do believe …

              Sometime in the future, when big business is kept well clear of government, rather than government being its “governance arm”, we might refer to the dark days of the unholy alliance …

  5. Blazer

     /  26th June 2018

    ‘Freedom comes at a price. Just imagine not having the freedom to call Trump a fascist.’

    just so long as you don’t say anything uncomplimentary about….Jews.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  26th June 2018

      About Jews? What about Blacks?
      Racist much there Blazer, wanting to cast aspersions based on race or religion?

    • David

       /  26th June 2018

      What’s wrong with you, racist prick

      • Blazer

         /  26th June 2018

        I’m the least racist person you’d..ever meet.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  26th June 2018

          He didn’t say you were a racist person, B.

          • Blazer

             /  26th June 2018

            ‘Racist much there Blazer, ‘…no I see what you ..mean.

            • Pickled Possum

               /  26th June 2018

              actually, David said, blah blah blah ‘racist prick’.

            • Blazer

               /  26th June 2018

              oh dear…prick not ..person…wonderful.

            • Gezza

               /  26th June 2018

              Well I dunno if you actually ARE anti-semitic but you sure come across as that, Blazer.

            • Blazer

               /  27th June 2018

              if anti semitic is defined as someone who occassionaly criticises the behaviour of some Jews….guilty.

  1. EU rules could ‘destroy the Internet as we know it’ — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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