Vera Jourova, the EU's commissioner for justice, is resisting calls to follow Theresa May's censorship lead and legislate to fine internet companies who fail to take down anything deemed hate speech.
Vera Jourova condemned Facebook as a highway for
hatred, but the former Czech minister said she was not yet ready to promote EU-wide legislation similar to that being pursued in the UK, France and Germany. I would never say they [the UK, France and Germany] are wrong, but we all have the responsibility
to react to this challenge with necessary and proportionate reaction, she told the Guardian.
In Britain, May is demanding that internet companies remove hateful content , in particular that aligned to terror organisations, within two hours of
being discovered, or face financial sanctions. Under a law due to come into effect next month in Germany, social media companies face fines of up to £43m if they persistently fail to remove illegal content from their sites.
The commission is
instead offering further guidance to internet companies about how they improve their record by complying with a voluntary code of conduct drawn up last year and so far adopted by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Under disgraceful plans set out last year by the European Commission, news publishers would get extra rights over their content, giving them the right to charge and licence publishers seeking to use snippets or short quotes from articles. The policy has
been dubbed 'the link tax'.
Now a key committee of the European Parliament, the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, wants to extend the proposals so that these rights would also cover publishers of academic research. Surely a nightmare for open
access and open science. Researchers might have to pay, or might at least have to ask for permission, every time they want to quote another academic's work in their piece.
If the proposed ancillary right is extended to academic publications,
researchers, students and other users of scientific and scholarly journal articles could be forced to ask permission or pay fees to the publisher for including short quotations from a research paper in other scientific publications, according to an open
letter from Science Europe.
But even if this latest amendment is not adopted, the wider plan could still make it much harder for everyone, including researchers, to include quotations from news articles in their work, the organisation fears. For
example, students might have to buy a licence for every newspaper quote they use in a thesis. Links to news and the use of titles, headlines and fragments of information could now become subject to licensing. Terms could make the last two decades of news
less accessible to researchers and the public, leading to a distortion of the public's knowledge and memory of past events.
Next week, MEPs on the European Parliament's powerful Civil Liberties committee will vote on whether to approve the Link Tax and mass content filtering. With your help we've been relentlessly fighting to put a stop to this disastrous duo of copyright
policy, and this is what all that pressure and hard work comes down to.
Let's be clear: these proposals are abusing copyright to censor the Internet. Backed by powerful publishing lobbyists and unelected European Commissioners,
they include sweeping powers for media giants to charge fees for links, and requirements that websites build censorship machines to monitor and block your content. But with the help of tens of thousands of EU citizens, we've made clear to the European
Parliament just how dangerous and unpopular these censorship proposals really are.
The European Commission has a well-deserved reputation for bizarre, destructive, ill-informed copyright plans for the internet , and the latest one is no exception: mandatory copyright filters for any site that allows the public to post material,
which will algorithmically determine which words, pictures and videos are lawful to post, untouched by human hands.
These filters already exist, for example in the form of Youtube's notoriously hamfisted Content ID system, which
demonstrates just how bad robots are at figuring out copyright law. But even if we could make filters that were 99% accurate, this would still be a catastrophe on a scale never seen in censorship's long and dishonorable history: when you're talking about
hundreds of billions of tweets, Facebook updates, videos, pictures, posts and uploads, a 1% false-positive rate would amount to the daily suppression of the entire Library of Alexandria, or all the TV ever broadcast up until, say, 1980.
SYRIZA MEP Stelios Kouloglou has filed a complaint with the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani claiming that several sketches by Greek cartoonists will not be allowed to go on display in an exhibition that is being organized by the Greek
politician and French MEP Patrick Le Hyaric, celebrating 60 years of the European Union.
According to Kouloglou, Greek cartoonists were censored, as 12 out of 28 their sketches were rejected because they allegedly violated European Union rules
that prohibit offensive material appearing in EU exhibitions.
It has emerged that an MEP
involved in the organisation of the event, the British MEP Catherine Bearder, has rejected 12 of the drawings which are critical of the project. The not so Liberal Democrat member representing the south east of England is the Quaestor - Members of
Parliament who deal with administrative matters directly affecting MEPs - in charge of the exhibition.
Companies including Google and Facebook could face repressive legislation if they don't proactively remove illegal content from their platforms that is deemed illegal. That's according to draft EU censorship rules due to be published at the end of the
month, which will require internet service providers to significantly step up their actions to address the EU's demands.
In the current climate, creators and distributors are forced to play a giant game of whac-a-mole to limit the unlicensed
spread of their content on the Internet.
The way the law stands today in the United States, EU, and most other developed countries, copyright holders must wait for content to appear online before sending targeted takedown notices to hosts, service
providers, and online platforms.
After sending several billion of these notices, patience is wearing thin, so a new plan is beginning to emerge. Rather than taking down content after it appears, major entertainment industry groups would prefer
companies to take proactive action. The upload filters currently under discussion in Europe are a prime example but are already causing controversy .
The guidelines are reportedly non-binding but further legislation in this area isn't being ruled
out for Spring 2018, if companies fail to address the EU's demands.
Interestingly, however, a Commission source told Reuters that any new legislation would not change the liability exemption for online platforms. Maintaining these so-called safe
harbors is a priority for online giants such as Google and Facebook 203 anything less would almost certainly be a deal-breaker.
The guidelines, due to be published at the end of September, will also encourage online platforms to publish
transparency reports. These should detail the volume of notices received and actions subsequently taken. The guidelines contain some safeguards against excessive removal of content, such as giving its owners a right to contest such a decision.
Irish film censors at IFCO have just released their Annual
Report covering 2016. It says very little but mentions that it only received 14 complaints about its classification decisions:
During the year, IFCO received 14 complaints from the public relating specifically to
classifications awarded. The largest number was in relation to JASON BOURNE, which was classified 12A with the accompanying consumer advice Strong weapons and hand to hand combat action consistent with previous films in this franchise.
The correspondence related to the level of violence portrayed and while we felt it was consistent with decisions in other cases, it does highlight a trend which we are aware of and continue to monitor. This trend was the subject of a
research project carried out by Assistant Classifier David Power entitled Ratings Creep & Violence in Films for Young Teens which was presented by him at the International Classifiers Conference held in Dublin Castle in October.
People are to have more control over their personal data and be better protected in the digital age under new measures announced by Digital Censorship Minister Matt Hancock.
Public to have greater control over personal data - including right to be forgotten
New right to require social media platforms to delete information on children and adults when asked
In a statement of intent the Government has committed to updating and strengthening data
protection laws through a new Data Protection Bill. It will provide everyone with the confidence that their data will be managed securely and safely. Research shows that more than 80% of people feel that they do not have complete control over their data
Under the plans individuals will have more control over their data by having the right to be forgotten and ask for their personal data to be erased. This will also mean that people can ask social media channels to delete
information they posted in their childhood. The reliance on default opt-out or pre-selected 'tick boxes', which are largely ignored, to give consent for organisations to collect personal data will also become a thing of the past.
Businesses will be supported to ensure they are able to manage and secure data properly. The data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), will also be given more power to defend consumer interests and issue higher fines, of up to £17 million or 4% of global turnover, in cases of the most serious data breaches.
Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital said:
Our measures are designed to support businesses in their use of data, and give consumers the confidence that their data is protected and those
who misuse it will be held to account.
The new Data Protection Bill will give us one of the most robust, yet dynamic, set of data laws in the world. The Bill will give people more control over their data, require more consent for
its use, and prepare Britain for Brexit. We have some of the best data science in the world and this new law will help it to thrive.
The Data Protection Bill will:
Make it simpler to withdraw consent for the use of personal data
Allow people to ask for their personal data held by companies to be erased
Enable parents and guardians to
give consent for their child's data to be used
Require 'explicit' consent to be necessary for processing sensitive personal data
Expand the definition of 'personal data' to include IP addresses,
internet cookies and DNA
Update and strengthen data protection law to reflect the changing nature and scope of the digital economy
Make it easier and free for individuals to require an
organisation to disclose the personal data it holds on them
Make it easier for customers to move data between service providers
New criminal offences will be created to deter organisations from either intentionally or recklessly creating situations where someone could be identified from anonymised data.
Elizabeth Denham, Information
We are pleased the government recognises the importance of data protection, its central role in increasing trust and confidence in the digital economy and the benefits the enhanced protections will
bring to the public.
Data protection rules will also be made clearer for those who handle data but they will be made more accountable for the data they process with the priority on personal privacy rights. Those
organisations carrying out high-risk data processing will be obliged to carry out impact assessments to understand the risks involved.
The Bill will bring the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law,
helping Britain prepare for a successful Brexit.