First detailed look at Poland's challenge to the EU Copyright Directive

After the EU Copyright Directive passed with a slim majority that only carried because some MEPs got confused and pressed the wrong button, the government of Poland filed a legal challenge with the European Court of Justice, arguing that the Directive -- and its rule requiring that all online discourse be filtered by black-box algorithms that will block anything that might be infringing -- violated both Polish and European law. Read the rest

46% of Scots want to separate from the UK; 43% want to remain

An Lord Ashcroft Poll for Holyrood found that the largest group of Scots with a preference favour independence from the UK: 46% leave vs 43% remain; after removing undecided voters, the figures are 52%-48%. Read the rest

Podcast: Steering with the Windshield Wipers

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my May Locus column: Steering with the Windshield Wipers. It makes the argument that much of the dysfunction of tech regulation -- from botched anti-sex-trafficking laws to the EU's plan to impose mass surveillance and censorship to root out copyright infringement -- are the result of trying to jury-rig tools to fix the problems of monopolies, without using anti-monopoly laws, because they have been systematically gutted for 40 years.

A lack of competition rewards bullies, and bullies have insatiable appetites. If your kid is starving because they keep getting beaten up for their lunch money, you can’t solve the problem by giving them more lunch money – the bullies will take that money too. Likewise: in the wildly unequal Borkean inferno we all inhabit, giving artists more copyright will just enrich the companies that control the markets we sell our works into – the media companies, who will demand that we sign over those rights as a condition of their patronage. Of course, these companies will be subsequently menaced and expropriated by the internet distribution companies. And while the media companies are reluctant to share their bounties with us artists, they reliably expect us to share their pain – a bad quarter often means canceled projects, late payments, and lower advances.

And yet, when a lack of competition creates inequities, we do not, by and large, reach for pro-competitive answers. We are the fallen descendants of a lost civilization, destroyed by Robert Bork in the 1970s, and we have forgotten that once we had a mighty tool for correcting our problems in the form of pro-competitive, antitrust enforcement: the power to block mergers, to break up conglomerates, to regulate anticompetitive conduct in the marketplace.

Read the rest

EU expert panel calls for a ban on AI-based risk-scoring and limits on mass surveillance

The EU Commission's High-Level Expert Group on AI (AI HLEG) has tabled its Policy and investment recommendations for trustworthy Artificial Intelligence, recommending a ban on the use of machine learning technologies to generate Chinese-style Citizen Scores and limits on the use of the technology in monitoring and analyzing mass surveillance data. Read the rest

Dieselgate 2.0: 42,000 Mercedes diesels recalled for "illegal software"

Germany's auto regulator has ordered Daimler to recall 42,000 Mercedes diesels because the company installed illegal software in their engines that gimmicked the engine's thermostat, which would allow the manufacturer to selectively tune its cars' emissions. Read the rest

European legal official OKs orders that force Facebook to globally remove insults to politicians like "oaf" and "fascist" (as well as synonyms)

Austria has incredibly broad libel laws -- so broad that they prohibit disgruntled voters from calling politicians "oafs" or "fascists." Predictably, this gave rise to a legal dispute between an Austrian politician and Facebook, when the former ordered the latter to remove a comment containing these two insults, and the whole mess ended up before the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU -- a person whose decisions are not binding, but are incredibly legally influential. Read the rest

Analysis of a far-right disinformation campaign aimed at influencing the EU elections

F-Secure Labs used a bot to harvest and analyze high-ranked disinformation tweets aimed at influencing the EU elections; they found that some of the highest-ranked xenophobic/Islamophobic disinformation came from a pair of related accounts: NewsCompact and PartisanDE, both in "the top three most engaged accounts in the EU election conversation space on Twitter two weeks ago." Read the rest

Poland has asked the European Court of Justice to overturn the #CopyrightDirective

The government of Poland has filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice, arguing that the recently passed Copyright Directive amounts of a form of censorship, "forbidden not only in the Polish constitution but also in the EU treaties." Read the rest

Europe's surging, far-right, "anti-establishment" parties: funded by billionaires, voting for billionaire-friendly policies, lining their own pockets

On May 26th, Europeans will vote for the next EU Parliament, and the region's far-right, "nationalist/anti-establishment" parties (AfD Germany, UKIP/Brexit UK, PiS/Poland, etc) are expected make large gains, possibly prompting a realignment of power in the EU; the far-right parties have campaigned as "anti-establishment," tapping into frustration with elites and their corruption. Read the rest

European telcos want the right to perform "deep packet inspection" on our data

[Austria's Epicentre Works is an incredibly effective European digital rights group, most famous for getting the EU's Data Retention Directive struck down; now, they're raising the alarm about a move to relax the EU's Net Neutrality rules to allow ISPs to conduct fine-grained surveillance and discrimination against services that aren't in bed with ISPs. I'm happy to provide Epicenter Works's Thomas Lohninger a space to highlight the group's efforts -Cory]

Today 45 NGOs, Academics and Companies from 15 countries released an open letter outlining the dangers of the wide-spread use of privacy invasive Deep Packet Inspection technology in the European Union. The letter is referencing the ongoing negotiations about Europes new net neutrality rules in which some telecom regulators are pushing for the legalization of DPI technology. Read the rest

British jury ignores judge and frees self-represented climate activists based on the "necessity defense"

In 2017, climate activists Roger Hallam and David Durant painted the words "divest from oil and gas" on a wall at King’s College London in chalk paint; they were facing £7,000 in fines and up to 18 months in prison, and did not qualify for a legal aid lawyer. Read the rest

Berlin! I'm coming to town tomorrow! (Houston, you're next)

Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 7th I'll be keynoting Berlin's Re:publica festival, as well as doing a signing for the German edition of my novella Unauthorized Bread, and an AMA about the EU Copyright Directive (International Space, 1230h) and then a general AMA (Deutschlandjahr Booth, 1345h). On Wednesday, May 8, I'll be at Otherland, Kreuzberg's sf bookstore, talking about the book some more.

After that, I'm off to Houston for a weekend at Comicpalooza, including a panel about copyright on May 10 at 12:30PM; presenting a keynote talk on May 11 at 12PM; and then another copyright panel on May 12 at 10:30AM.

See you soon! Tschüß!

(Image: Re:publica, CC-BY) Read the rest

Notre Dame's new spire might be copyrighted and blocked by EU filters

There's a proposal in the works to replace Notre Dame's spire -- which was a relatively modern addition -- with a new, starchitect-designed "statement" spire, which will be copyrightable under the same French rules that prohibit commercial photos of the Eiffel Tower at night (and other French landmarks). Read the rest

Political candidate's kids use his election flyers to fool his laptop's facial recognition lock

Matt Carthy is a Sinn Fein MEP from Eire; he's standing for re-election in the upcoming EU elections and has had fliers prepared with his headshot. Read the rest

EU to create 350m person biometric database for borders, migration and law enforcement

An overwhelming vote in the European Parliament last week means that the EU will merge a grab bag of existing biometric databases to create the Common Identity Repository (CIR), with biometric data on 350,000,000 people (both EU- and non-EU persons) that will be available for use by all EU police and border authorities. Read the rest

The sovereign nation of Iceland has finally invalidated the European trademark on "Iceland," formerly held by a British discount grocery chain

In 2014, the British discount grocers Iceland Foods (so named for their pioneering role in selling frozen food) was granted an EU-wide trademark on the word "Iceland" by the EU Intellectual Property Organisation, which apparently saw no risk in giving a British grocer a monopoly over the use of the name of a sovereign nation that was also a member of the European Economic Area. Read the rest

We lost the fight for balance in the EU's Copyright Directive, but here's what we won

The fight over the EU's Copyright Directive was the biggest fight in European political history: more than 100,000 people marched against it in 50 cities; more than 5,000,000 people signed a petition against it, and ultimately the Directive only squeaked into law because (Jesus Fucking Christ I can't believe I'm about to type this) five Swedish MEPs got confused pressed the wrong button (seriously kill me now). Read the rest

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