The EU Commission has been forced to retract a Medium post in which it patronised and dismissed opponents of the controversial Article 13 proposal that will force platforms to surveil and censor users' postings with copyright filters, calling them a "mob."
The Commission characterised the opposition as being stooges for Google, hoodwinked by the company to carry water for it, despite the fact that Google has quietly supported the idea of filters as an acceptable alternative to other forms of regulation (Facebook, too, has supported the proposal).
The Copyright Directive — which contains the offending Article 13 — is coming up for a vote this spring, just before EU elections; the Commission has, it seems, chosen a side in that vote and is attempting to sideline and marginalise EU voters who might put pressure on their elected representatives.
The Commission's piece has been removed (read an archived copy here), and replaced with a message that blames readers for not understanding it correctly.
This patronising dismissal marks a new phase in the effort to force the Directive through the Parliament; it supercedes an earlier tactic of characterising opponents of the Directive as "bots" (one German politician tweeted his suspicion that Google had unleashed bots on him, citing the fact that the voters who'd contacted him were using Gmail accounts!).
The tactic is backfiring. This weekend, thousands marched against the Directive in Cologne, carrying signs that mocked the "mob" and "bot" characterisations. More events are planned for March across the EU, ahead of the final vote. This vote will come weeks before the EU elections, and parties will be extremely sensitive to pressure from voters. Indeed, in Germany — the key EU nation whose support or opposition will make or break the Directive — the trending hashtag #NieMehrCDU (never again Christian Democratic Union, a reference to Germany's leading political party) has spooked politicians.
What is even more bewildering is that the Commission is not sorry for what was written. The article was removed not because it was incorrect, but because the public apparently doesn't have the capacity to understand it. Evidently, a simple update and clarification wouldn't have been understood either, hence the deletion of the entire piece.
Mentioning SOPA in the same breath as Article 13 always raises hackles among entertainment industry groups because there are plenty of legitimate reasons why they want it to be forgotten. Now, seven years on, they might finally get their wish because what is happening now is arguably much more ugly. This could be the new benchmark, the new low.
EU Commission Deletes Article 13 Post Because 'Mob' Understood it Incorrectly [Andy/Torrentfreak]
The Copyright Directive: how the mob was told to save the dragon and slay the knight [EU Commission/Medium (archived copy)]
Right now, spontaneous #Artikel13Demo, in #Cologne – just 2 days earlier announced. If already thousands of people demonstrate against #CopyLaw #CensorshipMachines (#Article13) & #LinkTax (#Article) at this occasion, how huge will the #stopACTA2 demos on 23th of March be?#EP2019 pic.twitter.com/qMgOFDbO3J
— CopyWrongs (@CopyWrongs) February 16, 2019