Upload filters approved: EU parliament votes for internet censorship

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Despite weeks of intense protests from civil society, MEPs have voted in favour of upload filters and Article 13. The fundamental rights NGO epicenter.works announces that it will take this law to the highest court and will continue to use all means to stop this excessive censorship infrastructure. 

Despite massive protests across Europe, a majority of 348 MEPs have voted in favour of the copyright reform, including the controversial Article 13. Only 5 votes were missing for a vote on the amendments to delete Article 13. The European Parliament thus confirmed a dangerous draft law that comprehensively threatens the freedom of expression of Europeans by forcing Internet platforms to carry out prior checks on all uploaded content.

"Today is a dark day for the Internet," confirms Bernhard Hayden, copyright expert at the digital fundamental rights organisation epicenter.works. "Not only does the European Parliament oppose the urgent warnings of leading European copyright experts and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Freedom of Expression, but it is also snubbing a whole generation by agreeing to this reform". With more than 5 million signatures, the petition against Article 13 is one of the largest collections of signatures of all time.

"Today has shown how important it is to vote in the European elections in May 2019. Similar to the climate protests by school students, the concerns of the young generation are not taken into account in the current political arena. Despite countless warnings from experts, a petition with 5 million signatures, and the tireless commitment of thousands of private individuals, short-sighted lobby interests have prevailed in the end. epicenter.works will do everything in its power to bring this law, which violates fundamental rights, to an end before the Highest Court," Hayden continued. 

The vote was preceded by weeks of massive protests from civil society that culminated in a Europe-wide action day last weekend, in which over 150,000 people carried their resistance to upload filters onto the streets of Europe. With pledge2019.eu, the Austrian fundamental rights organisation epicenter.works initiated one of the most important campaigns in the fight against upload filters, enabling citizens from all over Europe to call their MEPs free of charge to convince them to vote against Article 13. More than 3,500 calls were made through epicenter.works' website. 

All in all, interested citizens had more than a week of pure talking time with MEPs. There was also plenty of support online, as the campaign was spread by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. 

The approved reform will make the widely criticized upload filters compulsory for most Internet platforms. This will radically change the communication possibilities on the Internet and significantly restrict freedom of opinion and diversity of opinion in Europe. The ancillary copyright law, for which publishers and media groups in particular have lobbied, has also been criticised many times. Only large corporations and the copyright collective industry benefit from the introduction of both articles. Ordinary Internet users, as well as creative people and artists, meanwhile are left out in the cold, deprived of their creative freedom and diversity. Civil society has taken a firm stand against this, and young people in particular have mobilised against it.

After the approval of the Council, the member states will have two years to transpose the directive into national law. epicenter.works will take a close look at this process in Austria and, together with other civil society organisations, continue to mobilise against Internet censorship.

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