**Update: EU parliament has passed “The Mass Surveillance Law” aka EU Copyright Directive on 03-26-19
The notorious EU Copyright Directive, generally dubbed “disastrous” and potentially threatening to our beloved Open Web, has many absurdities. However, the biggest problems like the Link Tax and the privacy invading Upload Filter are more serious than it many seem to many common users.
The Upload Filter, which is majorly being called as the Meme Killer, is not only a huge threat to internet freedom, but can also lead to a potential, full blown mass surveillance campaign. Let’s dig a little deeper into these problems, which are directly associated with the EU Copyright Directive.
The EU Copyright Directive
For those who do not know about what EU Copyright Directive is, we suggest that you read everything about it first. Now, just to remind those who already are aware of the situation, EU Copyright Directive is a “disastrous” law passed by the European Parliament that the potentially undermine the internet freedom of people living in the EU and other parts of the world.
This controversial directive is intended to bring copyright laws into the digital age. However, the passed laws, especially Article 11 and Article 13, are all set to destroy the open web, along with the privacy of internet users.
Here we will mainly talk about Article 13, which is dubbed as the Upload Filter by critics. It is the most talked about section of the EU Copyright Directive, as the EU wants to apply these filters to all content on the Internet.
Many critics have named the Article 13 of EU’s directive as Upload Filter. You must have read the details about it in our previous blog. If not, then we suggest you to read that first, because here we will talk about its dark side.
To sum it up, it requires all the major tech giants to implement scanning systems. All the content that users upload on the internet would go through these scanning systems to analyze whether it is infringing copyrights or not.
How Will This Lead to Mass Surveillance?
The implementation of these scanning systems and their conformity with the law may sound like a great plan for some content creators and artists. However, it certainly will be a disaster for netizens across Europe.
According to EFF, this directive has set, “the stage for mass, automated surveillance and arbitrary censorship of the internet: text messages like tweets and Facebook updates; photos; videos; audio; software code — any and all media that can be copyrighted.”
EFF is not the only organization against this controversial law that requires netizens in the EU to be under mass surveillance. Here’s another notable reaction from Creative Commons, a on the EU Copyright Law:
.@EP_Legal has adopted both Article 11 (#linktax) and Article 13 (#CensorshipMachines). It’s a dark day for the open web, but the fight will continue in the upcoming plenary vote in the European Parliament. #SaveYourInternet #SaveTheLink #FixCopyright
— Creative Commons (@creativecommons) June 20, 2018
Once this directive is implemented, the upload filter will scan every post, video, content or photo before it’s allowed on any website like YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, 9Gag, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, as well as other similar platforms.
Now, these systems would certainly not be as perfect as they may sound. So, all the mass surveillance conducted through them would not only invade the privacy of users by going through all of their activities, but it will also keep the users’ data at the risk of being compromised.
User Behavior Monitoring
It has been found in the past that governments have demanded companies to give them backdoor access to popular devices and services. They do it for the sake of mass surveillance and monitoring the user behavior. Now, the EU Copyright Directive that demands mass surveillance may not merely be for the sake of stopping copyright infringements.
This directive gives the authorities one of the best chances to put their mass surveillance system on the world for user behavior monitoring. It would be done via autonomous systems, but these systems would be logging and accessing everyone’s data. This speculation goes way too far than this, but we do not think that it is the right time to discuss this extremely dark side of it.
Then, autonomous censorship would also be there to kill the already eroding freedom on the internet. It would not only destroy our favorite things like memes, but also celebrity fan pages, reaction channels, covers and parodies, most of the content on Reddit, and it might spell the end for most internet celebrities.
This autonomous censorship would be programmed, and therefore could be man controlled. This controlling power would be the government, system implementers and eventually the EU authorities. If they have the control, they also have the power to censor whatever they want, without making a big fuss about it, under the EU Copyright Directive.
These other sides of the EU Copyright Directive are so dark that the mere thought about them is enough to give anyone the chills! Unfortunately, all we can do now is wait for the final vote on the legislation and see how things unfold.