EU Tech Lobbying: Tricks-Camouflage-Deception

 

<Editors note   Original German Version of this article here. http://webschauder.de/tricksen-tarnen-taeuschen/  We appreciate Volker connecting the dots for us in the increasingly murky lobbying campaign by Google against Article 13.  The counter-narrative has already started–Google is using cherry-picked facts to try to make Members of the European Parliament believe that they are being outlobbied by artists, songwriters and journalists.  This conveniently overlooks the millions Google has spent in Europe trying to influence public opinion and, of course, the Google revolving door.  It’s also hard to believe that Google’s lobbying on its competition law fines had no affect on its lobbying against Article 13.:>

Tricks – Camouflage – Deception

Facebook makes you sit up and take notice. The British former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a new Head of Global Affairs for Facebook, was barely introduced when he made his first interesting public statements. “Regulation is not so bad,” Clegg told the Financial Times. As a former senior member of the government, presumably this comes naturally to Clegg because he simply knows it from his work.

Clegg made another surprising yet unsurprising statement on the subject of campaigns. In light of the possible influence of Facebook advertising on elections, Clegg promised that future campaigns on Facebook would be clearly labeled, for example, “Paid for by….”

Facebook is somewhat ahead of the EU in this respect, which is currently making efforts to do something about disinformation—especially in view of the EU election in May 2019.

This includes Brussels demanding monthly updates from Internet companies such as Google or Facebook, in which they must present what they have actually done to counter disinformation by, at a minimum, providing greater transparency. We will see whether this effort to promote greater transparency is successful, and one might be forgiven for having doubts based on past performance, but evolution is an agonizingly slow process.

Other tech lobby groups go the other way…

The Saveyourinternet.eu campaign takes a completely different approach masked in lack of transparency. As described in detail in earlier articles, the website played a central role in the attempted manipulation of EU parliamentarians by mail avalanches and Twitter storms in the summer of 2018.

The website was registered at the time by the lobby company N-Square from Belgium, which also does work for Google.

If you look at the current registration data for the website, you will see that the site is now anonymous. The French company Gandi SAS is used for this purpose, which conveniently and effectively disguises the true name and other data of the registrant.

 

Saveyourinternet.eu whois

Illustration: WhoIs of Saveyourinternet.eu at EURID

 

So it is not clear who is responsible for the page, because even a close examination of the page itself is anything but illuminating. There is a note indicating that the organization EDRi manages the site, but that does not meet the requirements of the E-Commerce Directive which requires a legal notice identifying a responsible person and address.

Edri management of the site .png

Illustration: Notes on the management of the site by EDRi

Family Business

One can only speculate about the reasons why EDRi has jumped into the breach here.

Maybe N-Square and its managing director, Caroline De Cock, wanted to get out of the line of fire after the response to its action against the MEPs from summer 2018.

However, presumably through oversight, the registration data for other websites involved in the campaign against the EU copyright reform have not been anonymized, although their look and feel is very similar to that of the Saveyourinternet site.

Fixcopyright.eu e.g. still has registration data of Ms De Cock and her parent company KDC Group and it may only be a matter of time before this page is also anonymized.

Fix copyright. eu registration.png

You also won’t find any necessary legal notice data on the FixCopyright site. If you follow their Privacy Policy, it forwards you to Create-Refresh, a commercial campaign site operated by the consulting company, Purpose Campaigns LLC from the USA. Create-Refresh has itself been incessantly banging the drum against the new EU Copyright Directive since the summer, including through the placement of banner ads on Twitter, for example.

And it also must be said that the partners of Create-Refresh parent company, Purpose Campaigns LLC, include, among others, Google and the Ford Foundation.

List of Partners at Purpose Campaigns LLC

Illustration: List of Partners at Purpose Campaigns LLC


Fixcopyright.eu therefore violates the E-Commerce Directive as well as saveyouinternet.eu!!

In addition, there are no data protection notices in accordance with the DSGVO, which has been in force in the EU since May 2018. Visitors to the site are redirected to the Twitter accounts of MEPs, for example, but they are not informed of this in any privacy notices, which of course also apply to so-called civil society groups.

In the end, however, these anti-Article 13 sites remain a kind of family business.

If one superimposes the financiers of EDRi and Copyright4Creativity, which is still managed by Caroline de Cock, or Purpose Campaigns, there are interesting intersections, be it the Open Society Foundation or the Ford Foundation. These two foundations alone accounted for almost 37% of EDRi revenues in 2017.

Even more exciting is the list of other EDRi donors.

One of them is Mozilla, who is known for financing Open Media, the company that via its subsidiary New/Mode provided the tools for the attack on the offices of members of parliament in the summer of 2018.

Open your wallets

Another donor is Wikipedia Germany.

Anyone who visits Wikipedia from October onwards will hardly be able to escape the appeals for donations. This was of course also the case in 2018.

wikipedia germany.png

Illustrations: Donation appeal from Wikipedia Germany in autumn 2018 as well as the thank you message, banner from the Wikipedia Germany page.

Wouldn’t it be more honest in the course of such appeals for donations to say that a large part of the money collected in Germany is thrown into the big pile of money that Wikipedia has in the USA and currently amounts to more than 120 million dollars?  (An amount for which one could probably finance the online encyclopedia for years to come.)

How this is compatible with Wikipedia’s non-profit status in Germany is another question that I will leave to another day.

Against this background, the statements made by John Weitzmann of Wikipedia Germany deserve further scrutiny. At a copyright congress in Berlin in November 2018, in front of roughly 250 people, Weitzmann declared that Wikipedia had never supported http://Saveyourinternet.eu . Apparently, he had, or has, a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction as this was clearly untrue. Or perhaps he was misled by Wikipedia and Saveyourinternet’s own disinformation campaign—a campaign itself rooted in obfuscation.

Of course, the picture of deception is incomplete without considering the role of Julia Reda, the only member of the Pirate Party in the EU Parliament. Ms. Reda has been very busy promoting a meme generator on Twitter apparently clinging to the myth that the directive restrict memes. Putting aside the fact that memes are not affected by the directive (and so every meme is compliant with the directive) it is highly instructive to observe the provenance of this CreateRefresh tool so favored by Ms. Reda! Part of the campaign is paid by Purpose Campaigns LLC, which as noted earlier, also lobbies for Google. So the circles are closing here as well.

julia reda tweet.png

Illustration: Screenshot of Julia Reda’s Twitter account

It will be interesting to see how the EU reacts to all these interconnected relationships.

Commissioner Mariya Gabriel was presented with comprehensive documentary evidence in Strasbourg at the beginning of December, which presents and proves the background of the non-transparent campaign against the EU, undertaken in conflict with the requirements of existing EU legislation.

Changes such as the changes to the Saveyourinternet.eu website indicate that the campaign operators are apparently becoming aware of the terrain they have entered and seems to be evidence they are distancing themselves.

It will be interesting to see how the EU reacts to all these events.
Commissioner Mariya Gabriel was presented with comprehensive documentary evidence in Strasbourg at the beginning of December, which presents and proves the background of the non-transparent campaign against the EU, undertaken in conflict with the requirements of existing EU legislation.
Revisions such as the anonymizing changes to the Saveyourinternet.eu website indicate that the campaign operators are apparently aware of the terrain they have entered.

Volker Rieck is managing director of the content protection service provider FDS File Defense Service, which works for numerous rights owners. The company also prepares studies on piracy and supports law enforcement companies with the data it collects.
Volker Rieck blogs regularly on Webschauder and from time to time on the US blog The Trichordist on various aspects of unregulated content distribution. His articles also appear on Tarnkappe.info and in the FAZ.

Guest Post: The TAZ, Pirate Utopias and YouTube’s Obsession with Safe Harbors

Guest post by Chris Castle

“[A]s you begin to act in harmony with nature the Law garottes & strangles you – so don’t play the blessed liberal middleclass martyr – accept the fact that you’re a criminal & be prepared to act like one.”

Hakim Bey from “T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism”

YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki is frantically wheeling around Europe this week in a despairing effort to establish a US-style safe harbor in Europe and undermine Article 13, the Copyright Directive for a Digital Single Market.

Let’s understand that the very concept of a safe harbor for YouTube has its roots deep in the pirate utopias of Internet culture–a fact that may get overlooked if you aren’t a student of the Silicon Valley groundwater.

The Value Gap really owes its origins to the anarchist Peter Lamborn Wilson who wrote the seminal text on pirate utopias under the nom de plume“Hakim Bey” entitled “The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism” (1991) or, as it is known perhaps affectionately in hacker circles, simply “TAZ.”  I for one am not quite sure what makes “poetic terrorism” different from unpoetic terrorism, utopian terrorism, anarchic terrorism, or just plain old terrorism, but it may explain why YouTube just can’t bring itself to block terrorist videos before they find an audience.

But the TAZ helps illuminate my own more truncated term for the Value Gap–the alibi. An alibi for a pirate utopia where the pirates run cults called Google and enrich themselves from the prizes they go a-raiding.

In the early days of online piracy there was a fascination with locating servers in some legal meta-dimension that would be outside of the reach of any law enforcement agency. Sealand, for example, captured the imagination of many proto-pirates, but Sealand is a little to clever to put themselves in a position requiring evacuation by the Royal Navy before the shelling begins.  So Sealand was ruled out.

Instead, Google–largely through YouTube–created its own pirate utopia through manipulation of the DMCA safe harbor, one of the worst bills ever passed by the U.S. Congress–and that’s saying something.  Google busily set about establishing legal precedents that would shore up the moat around their precious TAZ.  None of Google’s attacks on government should be surprising–anarchy is in their DNA.  As former Obama White House aide and Internet savant Susan Crawford tells us:

I was brought up and trained in the Internet Age by people who really believed that nation states were on the verge of crumbling…and we could geek around it.  We could avoid it.  These people were irrelevant.

And “these people” were stupid enough to give a safe harbor to protect the TAZ.  Because here’s the truth–the safe harbor that has made Google one of the richest companies in the world while they hoover up the world’s culture actually is the quintessential temporary autonomous zone.  It only exists in a changeable statute and the judicial interpretations of that statute, whether the DMCA or the Copyright Directive.  And like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, they’re not going to allow that disconnection without a fight.

But YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki will not be singing “A Bicycle Built for Two” as she flails about in the disconnect of YouTube.  Her basic argument is that “imposing copyright liability is destructive of value” for “open platforms” like YouTube.  “Open platforms” bear a striking resemblance to the TAZ, yes?  Ms. Wojcicki , of course, purveys a counterintuitive fantasy because unauthorized uses for which copyright liability accrues is what destroys the value of the infringed work.  What Ms. Wojcicki is harping about is how copyright infringement destroys value for YouTubeand its multinational corporate parent, Google.  This is what happens when stock options invade a pirate utopia.

Not only has she got it wrong, but what she is actually whingeing about is the threat posed to her YouTube pirate utopia by the Copyright Directive and the united creative community.  And as HAL might say, the YouTube mission is too important for me to allow you artists to jeopardize it.

 

The Values Gap: CD Baby Shows that the Safe Harbor is a Privilege to be Respected and Not an Alibi to be Cheapened

by Chris Castle, from Artist Rights Watch

It’s hard to believe that after a good ten years of being called out, YouTube still–still–cannot manage to stop neo-Nazi and white supremacist material from getting posted on its network.  We’ve been calling out YouTube on MusicTechPolicy and the Trichordist for these inexcusable failures again and again and again.  And yet they keep recycling the safe harbor as an alibi–and they’re doing it again in Europe on Article 13.

I can understand that YouTube doesn’t want to “censor” users and there may be close cases from time to time.  For example, I could understand why YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki might not want to take down videos from Seeking Arrangement that encourages young women into a “sugar daddy” relationship to pay for college and health care.

Sure, one of her Google colleagues was murdered by a woman he met through Seeking Arrangement.  Maybe Seeking Arrangement is a close case, particularly for a company that opposed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

But you know what’s not a close case? It’s right there in the title of the song–“Who Likes a N—“.  You would think that one would get picked up in a simple text filter of debased language.  But it wasn’t ten years ago and it still isn’t.  Not a close case.

UPDATE:  Author’s note–this YouTube video has been taken down and the account deleted–AFTER this post.

And then there’s “Stand Up and Be Counted” by the White Riders.  It’s not that hard to figure out by listening to any of the many versions of this song that it’s a recruiting song for the Klu Klux Klan.  And it’s not that YouTube doesn’t know it–this version of the hate song has clearly been filtered by YouTube–oh, sorry.  Not by YouTube, but by the “YouTube community.”  But why is it that a KKK recruiting song doesn’t violate YouTube’s terms of service if it doesn’t shock Susan Wojcicki’s conscience?

White Riders

David Lowery called out YouTube and CD Baby for allowing hate rock to be distributed on their platforms.  Within hours, CD Baby pulled the account.  But not YouTube.

Let’s understand a couple things.  First, this is not hard.  The Anti Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have actual lists of these bands.  Both MusicTechPolicy and The Trichordist have been hammering this issue for years.  Simple word searches could accomplish a large percentage of the task–the N word, KKK recruiting and images of Adolph Hitler are not close cases.

And let’s understand something else.  When users post movies, television shows and recorded music on YouTube, all of those materials have gone through some kind of legal review for standards and practices.  That doesn’t mean there’s no fair use or that there are no parodies.  It does mean that a human has thought about it because free expression is a judgement call.

Free expression is deserving of human examination.  You cannot create a machine that will do this for you.  You cannot rely on crowd sourcing to stop all uses of these vile terms and images–because in every crowd there’s someone who thinks it’s all just fine.  That’s why they’re called mobs.

YouTube, Facebook and all the Article 13 opponents actually are using a complete spectrum of review.  The problem is that they are cost shifting the human review onto artists and to a lesser extent their users for two reasons.  First and foremost is that they hope not to be caught.  That’s what the safe harbor is really all about.  The value gap is just a part of it–the other part is the values gap.  How do these people sleep at night?

But I firmly believe that the real reason that they shift the human cost onto those who can least afford it is because they’re too cheap to pay for it themselves.  They are willing to take the chance because getting caught so far has been a cost of doing business.

The real cost of their business is the corrosive effect that they have on our discourse, our families and our children.  There has to be a way to make YouTube responsible for their choices–and CD Baby showed this week that it’s not only possible but necessary.

If YouTube and their paid cronies want to try to convince legislators that they deserve special protection, they need to live up to the standard that CD Baby set this week  And they need to do that before they get any further special treatment.

As we’ve said for years, the safe harbor is a privilege not an alibi.