Tuesday, March 26, 2019, the European Parliament voted to approve new Internet regulations across all member nations. Of particular concern are Articles 11 and 13 of the new law.
The provisions of Article 11 require anyone – individual or corporate – to pay a licensing fee for URL links that they publish. This is being referred to as a “link tax”. So imagine you own a blog like this one, and you post some links to source information for reference. The EU wants you to pay a tax for that.
Now imagine you’re Google, Facebook, or Twitter. The EU expects those services to pay taxes on any links posted by their user base or appearing in search results. When Tim Berners-Lee created the “World Wide Web” protocol, the whole idea was to enable people to share content via hyperlinks. If one of the top consumer markets in the world decides (which apparently they have) to tax anyone using hyperlinks, the World Wide Web is effectively dead in Europe.
Article 13 is to put it mildly – crazy. It requires all service providers to pass any posted content through a filter to determine if that content belongs to someone else. Aside from the fact that this is virtually impossible to implement, there are no exceptions provided under the “Fair Use” doctrine. That means no more memes, no more clips or text snippets for critique, parody, or commentary. It is rote censorship by government and the media industrial complex.
So what does this portend? Why would Google, Facebook, Instagram, or any other tech company NOT block the EU from its services? It is the easiest, least costly, and least risky strategy. Forget tech startups in the EU – they’re history. You can also scratch independent commentary and journalism. The only entities that will be financially able to meet the requirements of Articles 11 & 13 will be massive corporations or government. That’s it, the EU has just placed a giant clamp atop the Internet. Even the “Great Firewall” of China pales in comparison.
Some have speculated – rightfully so – that this is a harbinger of things to come worldwide, as government, corporate, and media elites struggle to gain control of the “street” of the unwashed masses. Free expression is rapidly dying in the west.
P.S. Just for fun, I placed a bunch of Article 11 & 13 violations in this post. Come tax me EU!