EU is now giving Google new monopolies to the detriment of European citizens and Internet companies

andrus-ansip-and-gunther-oettinger-privacy-rules

Joint press conference by Andrus Ansip, Vice President of the EC, and Günther Oettinger, Member of the EC, on modern EU copyright rules. © European Union , 2016 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Jean-François Badias.

This article was exclusively written for The Sting by Mr Joe McNamee, Executive Director of  EDRi, the Brussels-based association of civil and human rights organisations from across Europe that defends rights and freedoms in the digital environment.

There is a lot of noise in the press and among lobbyists about an alleged hostility of the EU towards big American internet companies. Reality is more nuanced and more surprising – the policies appear to be hell-bent on giving Google new monopolies, to the detriment of European citizens and European internet companies.

The most astonishing of these policies is the proposal in the new Copyright Directive for mass, preventive filtering of information as it is being uploaded to the internet in Europe – a policy so restrictive and absurd that even China or Russia would baulk at the notion. An anti-Google measure? Hardly. Google actively lobbied the Vice-President of the European Commission about the alleged virtues of its content identification system (“contentID”), even if they hadn’t expected the Great Firewall of Europe to be the result.

andrus-ansip-tweet-data-privacyIf the proposal gets adopted, Google owns the ContentID technology, so would become the sole provider in a position to comply with the new rules without additional investment. Also, after investing tens of millions of dollars into developing the technology, it is uniquely placed to license such software to European internet providers. If European companies were obliged to adopt similar tools, they would be dependent on Google software or otherwise would have to invest high amounts to deploy a similar one – or risk getting sued for using less effective technology. Google currently uses contentID for ex post checks of uploads, allowing big content providers to delete users’ videos that include some copyrighted material, even if the material is fully compliant with copyright law.

The draft Directive is, unsurprisingly, somewhat incoherent. While imposing a general obligation to monitor uploads, it also indicates that an existing rule that prohibits a general obligation to monitor also stays in place. So, companies will have to invest in tools that have this functionality and will only have the opportunity, but possibly not the obligation (depending on how courts interpret the obtuse text of the Directive), to use it. It just happens that using this functionality gives them more safety from liability. As the rules are currently drafted, companies will have an obligation if they exceed an unspecified level of active engagement with the content.

In the same Directive, there is a proposal for a new “ancillary copyright,” whereby news outlets would be able to negotiate a fee for snippets of content to be used by services such as Google News or, possibly,Twitter – a policy often referred to as a “Google tax”. Hardly a pro-Google policy, right? Wrong. In Germany, where this policy has already been adopted, Google has the economic muscle to simply refuse to pay and suddenly it is not Google, but the publishers, who have a problem. Publishers put their content online in order for people to view it and to make money from advertising that is on their sites. They need Google News more than Google News needs them. So, the outcome is that everybody pays except Google. The Spanish government came up with a cunning plan, they passed a similar law to the one in Germany, but required Google News to pay. Result: Google News Spain shut down, to the detriment of smaller Spanish news outlets in particular and, again, everyone except Google loses.

The new legislative proposal is even worse than it seems. Despite the Commission’s best efforts, the EU recently adopted a world-leading Regulation that requires internet access companies to treat all internet traffic equally. Despite numerous complaints of discriminatory behaviour by the big online monopolies, no such obligation exists for Google to be non-discriminatory (i.e. not to sort content on the basis of its own business interests) in how it presents search results, ratings of businesses, news and so on. With the new copyright rules, Google will have a new legal obligation to have tools in place to interfere with content uploaded to its services, in real time, it will have a new legal obligation to agree (or not) to include news outlets in Google News. It is more than a little Faustian to believe that you do a deal to ask Google to be non-neutral, whenever this is to achieve whatever the European politicians want it to achieve and hope that Google will “do no evil” and not take advantage of its monopoly and legally mandated content regulation for its own benefit, to the detriment of European business, European citizens and the European online ecosystem.

Similarly, this Faustian deal, if adopted by the European Parliament and Council, would be to the detriment of freedom and democracy around the world. What credibility would Europe have when talking to Russia or China about online freedoms? Restrictions that have already been imposed, such as mass surveillance and data retention, are already thrown back at EU diplomats by foreign governments. Why, Beijing will ask, is the Great Firewall of China so bad, when this (from their perspective) implemented for the good of the society as a whole, when the Great Wall of Google is only designed to help a few copyright holders and, indirectly, Google itself.

Next stop for the proposal – approval, amendment or rejection by the European Parliament and the EU Member States. What should they say? In this bleak scenario, the words “Goethe” and “hell” spring to mind.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

An all-out fight for the EU budget

Germany to help China in trade disputes with Brussels

Novartis and Johnson & Johnson to deprive Europeans of their right to Health

Commission’s action plan: financial world mandatory links to environmental targets

European Business Summit 2014: The role of youth entrepreneurship education in EU’s Strategy for Competitiveness

Commission’s action against imports from China questioned

This is what countries are doing to fight plastic waste

Preparing the future today: World Health Organisation and young doctors

ITU Telecom World 2016: it’s all about working together

Global health challenges require global medical students

New VAT rules in the EU: how a digital sea could have become an ocean

Macro-Financial Assistance: Europe’s way to control Ukraine?

Can the banking union help Eurozone counter its imminent threats?

Why do medical students have to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

Industrial producer prices on free fall and stagnant output

How smart tech helps cities fight terrorism and crime

Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century: an equity unachieved

Lessons from the Global Entrepreneurship Index

MEP Cristiana Muscardini @ European Business Summit 2014: International Trade in Europe

“One Belt One Road”: Its relevance to the European Companies


Re-thinking citizenship education: bringing young people back to the ballot box

European Commission determined to conclude EU-Mercosur trade deal this year despite French concerns

Eurozone: Even good statistics mean deeper recession

Do academia and banks favour a new Middle Ages period?

JADE Spring Meeting 2016 highlights

Juncker’s Investment Plan in desperate need for trust and funds from public and private investors

Eurozone: Bank resolution proposal gains wider interest

World Retail Congress Dubai 2016: Retail’s night of nights

EU unfolds strategy on the Egypt question

COP21 Breaking News: Conference of Youth Focuses on Hard Skills to Drive Greater Climate Action

Financial Transaction Tax: More money for future bank bailouts?

Are ECB’s €500 billion enough to revive Eurozone? Will the banks pass it to the real economy?

Has Germany rebuffed ECB on the banking union?

Pollinating insects: Commission proposes actions to stop their decline

A new proposal breaks the stalemate over the Banking Union

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Will CETA be implemented after eight long years or it will be vetoed by the EU citizen?

The Peoples are missing from EU’s monetary union

GDPR and the World Cup have these 4 things in common

EU lawmakers vote to reintroduce visas for Americans over “reciprocity principle”

Russia and the West use the same tactics to dismember Ukraine

German opposition win in Lower Saxony felt all over Europe

The importance of exchanges for the medical students of the world

Greece returns to markets at a high cost to taxpayers, after four years out in the cold

A Sting Exclusive: “The Chinese economy is steady and moving in the right direction”, Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU underscores from Brussels

Auditors say EU spending delivers limited value for money but the timing of their report poses questions

D-Day for Grexit is today and not Friday; Super Mario is likely to kill the Greek banks still today

EU plans to exploit the Mediterranean Sea and the wealth beneath it

How bad is the Eurozone economy? The ECB thinks too bad

A Brussels antithesis reveals where the EU is heading

Copyright: European Union , 2017; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Frank Molter

EU hits deadlock on the future of glyphosate a month before deadline

EU Commission: Once in every 20 beef meals you eat…horse probably with drugs in it

Investment, not debt, can kick-start an entrepreneurial Europe

From inconvenience to opportunity: the importance of international medical exchanges

Canada leading the way on women’s inclusion and empowerment, says OECD

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

Trump stumbles badly on his Russian openings; Europeans wary of Putin

EU to pay a dear price if the next crisis catches Eurozone stagnant and deflationary; dire statistics from Eurostat

Ahead of State of the Union the European Youth Forum highlights lack of action on youth employment

A Sting Exclusive: “Youth voice must be heard in climate change negotiations!”, Bérénice Jond Board Member of European Youth Forum demands from Brussels

More Stings?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Originally published on The European Sting […]

  2. […] to artists (Ksat News) 15/09 EU Telecoms Proposals Stir Fierce Debate (TechWeek Europe UK) 16/09 EU is now giving Google new monopolies to the detriment of European citizens and Internet companies (The European Sting) 20/09 TiSA-Abkommen: Mehr Einfluss für Industrielobbyisten und weniger […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s