False Flag: my science fiction story about the future of copyright filters in an Article 13 Europe

The Green European Journal has published a package on the proposed new European Copyright Directive: first, an outstanding interview with the rebel Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda (previously); and then a new science fiction story I've written to show what a future where our speech is governed by unaccountable black-box copyright censorbots might look like: "False Flag."

Agata had always assumed that getting the footage would be the hard part. As it turned out, a covert North Sea drone insertion and exfiltration were the *easy* part.

Agata and her cell spend months planning the North Sea op, working with a cold haste that balanced the possibility that they would be too late against the possibility that they would be detected and blown. But on the morning, skipping over the shop in the little Zodiac, captained by Oxana, looking all Pussy Riot in her balaclava, Agata knew it was going to work. She pulled out her Toughbook and sparked up the drones, each the size of a firefly, and sent them off to reccy the trawler, using both radar and cameras to capture the undersea nets and follow them for their full 25 kilometer span. It was incredible to behold, and terrible, a vast wickedness that would sterilize the sea as it was dragged behind the trawler, which was flying a Panamanian flag.

The drones had just enough power to buzz the ship, getting its registry and flags and automatically zoomed-in shots of the sailors’ faces before the batteries died. Agata had considered ditching the drones in the sea, but the irony of scuttling e-waste in a project designed to blow the whistle on illegal overfishing was too thick. Instead, she’d carefully filed off all the serial numbers on the drones so that they could be anonymously ditched onboard the trawler.

They hit bad winds on the way back to their support vessel, which was to take them back to Thyborøn. Twice, the Zodiac nearly capsized, and the second time, Agata just barely caught the Toughbook as it bounced and jounced toward the gunwales, leaving her clinging to it with one hand and the boat with the other while stinging, icy mist battered her relentlessly. They were soaking and exhausted when they reached the support vessel, Agata’s legs shaking as she stepped onboard, white-knuckle grip on the Toughbook, and she managed to plug in the satellite phone and start her footage uploading before she vomited.

Link Taxes and Upload Filters Will Not Fix the Internet [Julia Reda/Green European Journal]

False Flag [Cory Doctorow/Green European Journal]

(Image: Greenpeace, CC-BY-SA)

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