On the 15th of March, the German Bundesrat (Federal Council) voted to amend the Criminal Code in relation to internet based services such as The onion router (Tor).
The proposed law has been lambasted as being too vague, with privacy experts rightfully fearful that the law would be overapplied. The proposal, originating from the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of Justice Peter Biesenbach, would amend and
expand criminal law and make running a Tor node or website illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison. According to Zeit.de, if passed, the expansion of the Criminal Code would be used to punish anyone who offers an internet-based
service whose access and accessibility is limited by special technical precautions, and whose purpose or activity is directed to commit or promote certain illegal acts.
What's worse is that the proposed changes are so vaguely worded that many other services that offer encryption could be seen as falling under this new law. While the proposal does seem to have been written to target Tor hidden services which are
dark net markets, the vague way that the proposal has been written makes it a very real possibility that other encrypted services such as messaging might be targeted under these new laws, as well.
Now that the motion to amend has been accepted by Bundesrat, it will be forwarded to the Federal Government for drafting, consideration, and comment. Then, within a month and a half, this new initiative will be forwarded to the German Senate, aka
the Bundestag, where it will be finally voted on. Private Internet Access and many others denounce this proposal and continue to support Tor and an open internet
Private Internet Access currently supports the Tor Project and runs a number of Tor exit nodes as a part of our commitment to online privacy. PIA believes this proposed amendment to the German Criminal Code is not just bad for Tor, which was
named specifically, but also for online privacy as a whole -- and we're not the only ones.
German criminal lawyer David Schietinger told Der Spiegel that he was concerned the law was too overreaching and could also mean an e-mail provider or the operator of a classic online platform with password protection.
The bill contains mainly rubber paragraphs with the clear goal to criminalize operators and users of anonymization services. Intentionally, the facts are kept very blurred. The intention is to create legal uncertainty and unavoidable risks of
possible criminal liability for anyone who supports the right to anonymous communication on the Internet.
It's not only China and the UK that want to identify internet users, Austria also wants to demand that forum contributors submit their ID before being able to post.
Austria's government has introduced a bill that would require larger social media websites and forums to obtain the identity of its users prior to them being able to post comments. Users will have to provide their name and address to websites but
nicknames are still allowed and the identity data will not be made public.
Punishments for non complying websites will be up to 500,000 euros and double that for repeat offences.
It would only affect sites with more than 100,000 registered users, bring in revenues above 500,000 euros per year or receive press subsidies larger than 50,000 euros.
There would also be exemptions for retail sites as well as those that don't earn money from either ads or the content itself.
If passed and cleared by the EU, the law would take effect in 2020. The immediate issues noted are that some of the websites most offending the sensitivities of the government are often smaller than the trigger condition. The law may also step on
the toes of the EU in rules governing which EU states has regulatory control over websites.
The European Parliament has approved a draft version of new EU internet censorship law targeting terrorist content.
In particular the MEPs approved the imposition of a one-hour deadline to remove content marked for censorship by various national organisations. However the MEPs did not approve a key section of the law requiring internet companies to pre-process
and censor terrorsit content prior to upload.
A European Commission official told the BBC changes made to the text by parliament made the law ineffective. The Commission will now try to restore the pre-censorship requirement with the new parliament when it is elected.
The law would affect social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which could face fines of up to 4% of their annual global turnover. What does the law say?
In amendments, the European Parliament said websites would not be forced to monitor the information they transmit or store, nor have to actively seek facts indicating illegal activity. It said the competent authority should give the website
information on the procedures and deadlines 12 hours before the agreed one-hour deadline the first time an order is issued.
In February, German MEP Julia Reda of the European Pirate Party said the legislation risked the surrender of our fundamental freedoms [and] undermines our liberal democracy. Ms Reda welcomed the changes brought by the European Parliament but said
the one-hour deadline was unworkable for platforms run by individual or small providers.
The EU Council of Ministers has approved the Copyright Directive, which includes the link tax and censorship machines. The legislation was voted through by a majority of EU ministers despite noble opposition from Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands,
Poland, Finland, and Sweden.
As explained by Julia Reda MEP, a majority of 55% of Member States, representing 65% of the population, was required to adopt the legislation. That was easily achieved with 71.26% in favor, so the Copyright Directive will now pass into law.
As the image above shows, several countries voted against adoption, including Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and Sweden. Belgium, Estonia, and Slovenia absta ined.
But in the final picture that just wasn't enough, with both Germany and the UK voting in favor, the Copyright Directive is now adopted.
EU member states will now have two years to implement the law, which requires platforms like YouTube to sign licensing agreements with creators in order to use their content. If that is not possible, they will have to ensure that infringing
content uploaded by users is taken down and not re-uploaded to their services.
The entertainment lobby will not stop here, over the next two years, they will push for national implementations that ignore users' fundamental rights, comments Julia Reda:
It will be more important than ever for civil society to keep up the pressure in the Member States!
Mid90s is a 2018 USA comedy drama by Jonah Hill.
Starring Sunny Suljic, Katherine Waterston and Lucas Hedges.
The movie follows a teenager named Stevie growing up in Los Angeles. He's struggling with his family, including his co-dependent single mom and his abusive older brother, and at school, where his richer friends seem to overlook him. When Stevie
befriends a crew of skateboarders, he learns some tough lessons about class, race, and privilege.
Mid90s was originally given an 18 rated by the Irish Film Classification Office. However the film's distributors successfully appealed the decision and the rating was reduced to 16. Probably a good job as an adults only skateboard movie may have
had a limited appeal.
US: MPAA R rated for pervasive language, sexual content, drug and alcohol use, some violent behavior/disturbing images - all involving minors
UK: Passed 15 uncut for strong language, drug misuse, self-harm, violence
The European Parliament is set to vote on legislation that would require websites that host user-generated content to take down material reported as terrorist content within one hour. We have some examples of current notices sent to the Internet
Archive that we think illustrate very well why this requirement would be harmful to the free sharing of information and freedom of speech that the European Union pledges to safeguard.
In the past week, the Internet Archive has received a series of email notices from Europol's European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) falsely identifying hundreds of URLs on archive.org as terrorist propaganda. At least one of these
mistaken URLs was also identified as terrorist content in a separate take down notice from the French government's L'Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalit39 li39e aux Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC).
The Internet Archive has a few staff members that process takedown notices from law enforcement who operate in the Pacific time zone. Most of the falsely identified URLs mentioned here (including the report from the French government) were sent
to us in the middle of the night 203 between midnight and 3am Pacific 203 and all of the reports were sent outside of the business hours of the Internet Archive.
The one-hour requirement essentially means that we would need to take reported URLs down automatically and do our best to review them after the fact.
It would be bad enough if the mistaken URLs in these examples were for a set of relatively obscure items on our site, but the EU IRU's lists include some of the most visited pages on archive.org and materials that obviously have high scholarly
and research value. See a summary below with specific examples.
A group of some of the best known internet pioneers have written an open letter explaining how the EU's censorship law nominally targeting terrorism will both chill the non terrorist internet whilst simultaneously advantaging US internet
giants over smaller European businesses. The group writes:
EU Terrorist Content regulation will damage the internet in Europe without meaningfully
contributing to the fight against terrorism
Dear MEP Dalton,
Dear MEP Ward,
Dear MEP Reda,
As a group of pioneers, technologists, and innovators who have helped create and sustain todayís internet,
we write to you to voice our concern at proposals under consideration in the EU Terrorist Content
Tackling terrorism and the criminal actors who perpetrate it is a necessary public policy objective, and the internet plays an important role in achieving this end. The tragic and harrowing incident in Christchurch, New
Zealand earlier this month has underscored the continued threat terrorism poses to our fundamental freedoms, and the need to confront it in all its forms. However, the fight against terrorism does not preclude lawmakers from their responsibility
to implement evidence-based law that is proportionate, justified, and supportive of its stated aim.
The EU Terrorist Content regulation, if adopted as proposed, will restrict the basic rights of European internet users and undercut innovation on the internet without meaningfully contributing to the fight against terrorism.
We are particularly concerned by the following aspects of the proposed Regulation:
¬Unclear definition of terrorist content: The definition of 'terrorist content' is extremely broad, and includes no clear exemption for educational, journalistic, or research purposes. This creates the risk of over-removal
of lawful and important public interest speech.
Lack of proportionality: The regulation applies equally to all internet hosting services, bringing thousands of services into scope that have no relevance to terrorist content. By not taking any account of the different
types and sizes of online services, nor their exposure to such illegal content, the new rules would be far out of proportion with the stated aim of the proposal.
Unworkable takedown timeframes: The obligation to remove content within a mere 60 minutes of notification will likely lead to significant over-removal of lawful content and place a catastrophic compliance burden on micro,
small, and medium-sized companies offering services within Europe. At the same time, it will greatly favour large multinational platforms that have already developed highly sophisticated content moderation operations
Reliance on upload filters and other ;proactive measures': The draft regulation frames automated upload filters as ¬Āethe¬Āf solution for terrorist content moderation at scale, and provides government agencies with the
power to mandate how such upload filters and other proactive measures are designed and implemented. But upload filtering of 'terrorist content' is fraught with challenges and risks, and only a handful of online services have the resources and
capacity to build or license such technology. As such, the proposal is setting a benchmark that only the largest platforms can meet. Moreover, upload filtering and related proactive measures risks suppressing important public interest content,
such as news reports about terrorist incidents and dispatches from warzones
We fully support efforts to combat dangerous and illegal information on the internet, including through new legislation where appropriate. Yet as currently drafted, this Regulation risks inflicting harm on free expression and due process,
competition and the possibility to innovate online5.
Given these likely ramifications we urge you to undertake a proper assessment of the proposal and make the necessary changes to ensure that the perverse outcomes described above are not realised. At the very least, any legislation of this nature
must include far greater rights protection and be built around a proportionality criterion that ensures companies of all sizes and types can comply and compete in Europe.
Citizens in Europe look to you for leadership in developing progressive policy that protects their rights, ensures their companies can compete, and protects their public interest. This legislation in its current form runs contrary to those
ambitions. We urge you to amend it, for the sake of European citizens and for the sake of the internet. Yours sincerely,
Mitchell Baker Executive Chairwoman, The Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation Tim Berners-Lee Inventor of the World Wide Web and Founder of the Web Foundation Vint Cerf Internet Pioneer Brewster Kahle Founder & Digital Librarian,
Internet Archive Jimmy Wales Founder of Wikipedia and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation Markus Beckedahl Founder, Netzpolitik; Co-founder, re:publica Brian Behlendorf Member of the EFF Board of Directors; Executive
Director of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation Cindy Cohn Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation Cory Doctorow Author; Co-Founder of Open Rights Group; Visiting Professor at Open University (UK) Rebecca MacKinnon Co-founder, Global
Voices; Director, Ranking Digital Rights Katherine Maher Chief Executive Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation Bruce Schneier Public-interest technologist; Fellow, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School