The European Commission is considering new Internet regulations that would make online services legally liable for their users' bad actions, meaning that services like Youtube, Facebook, and the comments section of your favorite website would have to somehow review everything that users post before making it public, assessing all user-submitted material for its legal compliance with a bewildering array of international guidelines.
It's a proposal that would provide full employment within the EU, once every single European was retrained as an Internet lawyer — and they still wouldn't be able to make a dent in the user-submitted material posted to the net every second of every minute of every day.
The Commission has posted an online survey in which you can comment on this, but as you might expect (if you've had experience with the Commission), it's an insanely baroque, one-sided affair, nearly impossible to fill in without professional guidance, and designed to allow people who like the idea of expanded liablity with lots of space to make their case, and no comparable amount of space for people who don't want the Internet wrecked.
The Copia Institute, a thinktank started by Techdirt, has posted a step-by-step guide to the Commission's form, with the intention that you can keep it open in one tab and the form open in another, and replace the army of professionals that the Internet's wreckers employ to give the Commission the veneer of democratic respectability with a people-powered campaign that lets us all cooperate to get our opposition into the record, despite the Commission's best efforts to the contrary.
The Commission's form is terrible, and you should fill it in anyway. It's vital to the future of the net.
This isn't just an issue for Europe. Currently, the EU's rules around intermediary liability are largely in line with the safe harbor approach in the US, and changing this could impact every online service that has European users, everyone who wants to share content internationally or make use of services from the EU, and generally everyone who cares about innovation, privacy, competition and free speech on the global internet. So we're asking everyone to brave the nightmarish online survey and speak up against these new regulations, and to help we've created the Don't Wreck The Net campaign and survey survival guide. There we outline the core issues at stake, and offer some help orienting yourself in the survey and understanding what the bureaucratically-worded questions are getting at.
Again, it's really important that people respond to this public consultation. Not only is the survey a pain, the details strongly indicate that the European Commission really wants to enact some new regulations — often, it only gives you space for additional comment when you are criticizing the existing framework, but not when you are defending it. You can bet that lots of folks from the copyright industries have submitted their responses, no doubt calling for robust new notice-and-staydown rules and proactive monitoring requirements. This can't be the only message the Commission hears.
This Survey Sucks, And The Internet Needs You To Fill It Out