The Link Tax, The Censorship Machines And The Balkanisation Of The Web

Photo Credit: illustration by Guillaume Kurkdjian, “Should we dismantle Google?”

You would think that passing a law to regulate link sharing or to validate intellectual ownership of content is a good thing in designating credible sources and ultimately delivering accurate information to the final user. Well, think again. In an attempt to modernise copyright law, the new Copyright Directive approved on Wednesday by the EU, raises cause for concern under three articles that seem to have control of informational flow at stake. If passed in January of next year, in the current form, the bill might damage the way we use the internet and online freedom of expression in a major way. Let’s brake down these three articles and what they stand for.

1. Article 11: News Aggregators — this article forces news aggregators like say Facebook, Reddid, Medium or Google News to have paid licenses in place for every which pixel and character of copy they share. Now, it all sounds just, but it’s still a double edged sword, as there will be an euro exchange for sharing or quoting content, which limits the access to information for the humble user and increases visibility of any paying outlet. Forcing licensing on news aggregators is nothing new, as similar attempts have been made in 2014 by both Germany and Spain, when Google neutralized the attempt by simply de-listing german and spanish news sites from their index. Article 11 however, might have much more profound implications, if passed. Cutting ties with the informational flow coming from 2 countries is one thing, cutting ties with all of unified europe is another. Having news aggregators diminish quantity over quality by being more selective is an ideal that we’re still not sure how we’re going to achieve as imposing paid licensing might not bring much relief, but the exact opposite.

2. Article 12a: Photos and Videos taken at sport matches — recording videos or taking pictures with your phone while at a sport match and publishing them is labeled as copyright violation, under this article. In other words, organisers will impose heavy barriers to outsiders in what sharing, publishing, presenting, reproducing or recording is concerned. That might lead to an entire fan culture to be filtered out by social platforms or news aggregators that will be forced to comply.

3. Article 13: Copyright Filters — any content flagged as infringement will be monitored by automated detection systems, under the new law. It sure sounds like a good thing, but given the lack of detail in what the implementation might be, this article too might bring much more chaos and a widespread, not necessarily positive impact. Online Censorship being one of them. Google will survive, but mid size companies won’t. Some platforms like github could potentially lose the ability to operate in the EU, any forum would be at risk, becoming giant copyright liabilities.

Failing to redefine these articles, might lead to permanent surveillance, damaging the open and free internet as we know it with great implication on innovation, proving that sometimes the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

Just as in the case of net neutrality repeal in the USA, these articles of the EU directive are seen as enemies of innovation. Advocates of net neutrality argue in the favor of keeping an unobstructed online field as a vital part of innovation. Their concern is very valid and should be a cause worth fighting for all of us.

Net neutrality broadly means that all content available on the internet should be equally accessible, it’s a philosophy that puts big ideas and big money on equal grounds- preventing american providers like Comcast and Verizon to block some data while prioritizing others. In other words big companies shouldn’t be blocking users from accessing services like Netflix in an effort to sell their own cable package or for the purpose of making users buy a streaming video service bundle sold by your ISP.

Otherwise, if broadband providers start picking favorites, new technology might never see the light of day. To understand that assertion, imagine you had your ISP blocking or limiting access to video streaming when services like Youtube came to shape, 18 years ago. Had that been the case, Youtube might not even exist today or would only be accessible upon paying extra fees to your ISP. A very unpleasant prospect, we agree.

In the case of net neutrality repeal, having a VPN in place can help you overturn its effects.

Under the new FCC regulation, an ISP has the liberty of charging you more if you watched Netflix instead of Hulu, creating “fast lanes” and unfair advantages to preferred partners. Don’t think your ISP would do that if given the chance? Well, it’s already happened as stated before, since 2004, coming up to AT&T’s Facetime ban and again in 2014 and 2017 when Verizon slowed down Netflix traffic.

While California’s S.B. 822 is becoming the poster child for states looking to keep net neutrality in place by voting its own rules, not all states have the luxury to do so.

Getting back to the Copyright Directive, whether this new law will empower content creators or cause more harm then good is still unclear. One think is certain, if the directive passes in its current form, things will get much more chaotic, before they start to order and actually make sense. If voted in the spring of next year, member states will have two years to implement it. Expect some large platforms to stop service in Europe- as we saw happening post GDPR implementation. Some might decide to just geo-block services for a while. When or if that happens, you know what you have to do. And by that we mean that turning to a VPN service might prove very helpful in this case, too.

All in all there is no doubt that the online environment is becoming increasingly politicized and the concept of a open but safe internet is in the midst of powerful forces of antagonistic interests fighting each other. A balance between these forces is a desiderate for a healthy environment that we’re not sure how or when we’re going to achieve.

In the meantime, people are turning to VPNs to preserve access and to reclaim online freedom and privacy and we strongly advice that you should do the same.

No longer an exotic tool, VPNs are now entering the mainstream and given the context it’s easy to understand why.

Simply put, when you’re using a VPN, all your data travels through a tunnel encrypted from end to end. In other words, your ISP will not be able to block access or make sense of your data, since you’ll have all your online data happen elsewhere, not going through your ISP servers and encrypted all the while.

But it’s not just your ISP that keeps track of your browsing data, it’s your cell phone provider too, most apps, operating systems, and other services do the same.

Smartphones with preinstalled tracking software, secretly bundled with tracking files are sold everyday, while some companies try to leverage the very problem they created by charging extra for privacy.

Having a VPN in place is the smart approach to getting around all this. Think at a VPN as the middleman between you and the internet, where your ISP can only see a bunch of encrypted traffic. And since your VPN knows as much as your ISP would, it’s very important to choose a reliable one with a zero log policy and a strong encryption.

Services like will offer you a self-managed VPN network platform, delivering fast, secure and reliable VPN service , The platform caters to a wide demographic through three channeled directions:Personal,Dedicated and Business, so it makes for a wonderful choice for corporate or personal use at the same time.

Engineered as a global platform, is a VPN service provider committed to developing applications and services that preserve an open and secure Internet experience while respecting user privacy.

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