ORLANDO, FL – The European Union has become a bigger threat to the Internet ‘as we know it’ then nearly anything I’ve seen in the past, including Net Neutrality. Even Internet inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales say that the web could not have developed as it has if these new EU rules were in play 25 years ago.
For instance, recently Europe created the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which we all know has had wide reaching effects on the entire industry and world, not just in Europe. It’s also the reason we’re losing access to the “Who Is” system. The EU was also first to roll out something called the ‘right to be forgotten’ which is a concept of an individual having control over information posted online, especially derogatory information such as a past arrest record.
It’s hard to say whether some of these rules being implemented are intended to protect the individual, or if they are really some sort of attack on the Facebook and Google’s of the world who the EU isn’t happy with and is constantly fining. Just recently, in July, the EU fined Google $5.1 Billion in an Antitrust Case. They also fined Facebook $122 Million last year and they are continually threatening more.
The latest disaster which will threaten web publishers across the globe is Europe’s new copyright law which could change the web yet again, making it even harder for ordinary publishers to exist and compete. New legislation just passed will hold publishers accountable for each and every piece of content uploaded by a user onto their platform; every image, every meme, every snippet, every photo, etc. It’s being called by some a “link tax” because it will hold platforms accountable even for snippets of content, which traditionally were considered fair use when used in small proportion to the original. Think RSS feeds and syndicated links. These will become a thing of the past and online sharing will be limited.
Every website that allows a user to upload information or images will need to monitor and check all of the content otherwise they will likely shut down or be burdened with the cost of content filtering, and even if they do filter the content being uploaded, if they don’t do it correctly and they miss something, they will face huge fines and lawsuits and be liable for whatever the damages are determined to be. This could be anything at all, from social networks, forums, free blogging services; any service which allows the adding of information for public consumption could disappear.