Tag: European Union

I Know That the French Are Nuts on Copyright, but This Is Ridiculous

French internet cops have demanded that the Internet Archive remove more than 550 instances of “terrorist propaganda” from its site.

There’s only one problem: the illegal and offensive content they have identified includes live recordings of the Grateful Dead, archives of TV news shows and pages from Project Gutenberg – which archives plain text versions of books as horrifying as The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland.

The organization is not amused. “It would be bad enough if the mistaken URLs in these examples were for a set of relatively obscure items on our site,” it said in a blog post, “but the French IRU’s lists include some of the most visited pages on archive.org and materials that obviously have high scholarly and research value.”

It then provides some of the links that it points out it would be obliged to remove within one hour if new legislation passing through the European Parliament is approved. It is painfully obvious that the requests are overly broad and misguided.

“The European Parliament is set to vote on legislation that would require websites that host user-generated content to take down material reported as terrorist content within one hour,” the Internet Archive notes. “We have some examples of current notices sent to the Internet Archive that we think illustrate very well why this requirement would be harmful to the free sharing of information and freedom of speech that the European Union pledges to safeguard.”


There is another chilling component too, highlighted by the Internet Archive: a separate takedown notice sent by the French L’Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalité liée aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC).

In this case, it demanded that the organization take down a video that discussed whether the Islamic holy text, the Quran, included “provocation of acts of terrorism or apology for such acts”.

If you place this authority in the hands of law enforcement officials, it will be abused, and it will be used stupidly.

It is the very nature of law enforcement.

Vote for This Guy

Stanislovas Tomas, who is running for a seat in the EU Parliament, kjust smashed a plaque commemorating Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika:

A Lithuanian lawyer smashed a controversial plaque honoring a Nazi collaborator in Vilnius, which a local court recently ruled may stay.

Stanislovas Tomas, a human rights lawyer running for election to the European Parliament, was filmed smashing the plaque honoring Jonas Noreika on Sunday and streamed it on Facebook. He reported his actions to police and waited to be arrested next to the plaque with a sledgehammer.

Last month, a Vilnius court dismissed an American Jew’s lawsuit against a state museum’s glorification of Noreika, citing the complainant’s “ill-based” intentions.

Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Eastern Europe director, for years has argued that Noreika became a mass murderer after his appointment in 1941 as head of Siauliai County under the German Nazi occupation.

The case is thought to be the first in which civil servants publicly defended in court the actions and good name of an alleged collaborator with the Nazis.

In documents submitted to the court, the center claimed Noreika’s actions could not be judged posthumously and that in any case there is no evidence to suggest he perpetrated war crimes.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish Community of Lithuania, and one of Noreika’s grandchildren, Silvia Foti, dispute this.

(emphasis mine)

The court ruled no evidence, despite the fact that one of his own grandchildren was a part of a lawsuit calling him a genocidal monster.

Here’s a hint for the people of Eastern Europe:  Just because the Soviets Union did bad things does not mean that Nazis, or those who enthusiastically prosecuted genocide for the Nazis, were good people.

Listen to Admiral Ackbar

This is not a good faith offer. May is incompetent, and her only governing principle is her repeated attempts to appeal to racists for political advantage. (See the Windrush scandal)

She has lost all credibility, and most of her influence with, her own party.

She literally has nothing to offer, and the only reason to do this is as part of an attempt to somehow paint Labour in the most vile and racist manner.

Listen to Admiral Ackbar.

Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday broke with her own party, appealing to the opposition to work with her on a plan in a move that could keep Britain closely tied to the European Union after the country leaves the bloc.

Mrs. May made the announcement after her cabinet had met for seven hours, amid a growing sense of crisis. With only 10 days left until Britain is due to leave the European Union, she also said she would ask leaders of the bloc for an extension.

A seven hour cabinet meeting?  That doesn’t sound good.


Her overture to the Labour Party could mark a turning point in Brexit, as Britain’s exit from the European Union is known, ending months of stalemate between Mrs. May and Conservative hard-liners, who have adamantly refused to support the deal she negotiated with the European Union.


The prime minister said the withdrawal agreement must stand, even though Parliament has rejected it three times already. European leaders have insisted upon this.

Under the withdrawal agreement, Britain would remain in the European Union customs and trading system until at least the end of 2020.


Mrs. May’s plan had envisioned eventually severing ties with the bloc’s customs and trading system, and taking control over immigration from continental Europe.

Until now, she has refused to consider softening any of these so-called red lines.

She’s trying to make Corbyn her patsy.

The Bright Side to Brexit

A controversial directive introducing sweeping changes to copyright enforcement across Europe has been approved by the European parliament, despite ferocious campaigning led by Google and internet freedom activists.

The European copyright directive, voted in by 348 MEPs to 274 against, is best known for two provisions it contains: articles 11 and 13, referred to as the “link tax” and “upload filter”, respectively, by opponents.

The latter has been the main focus of campaigning. It requires websites that host user-generated content to take active measures to prevent copyrighted material from being uploaded without permission, under the penalty of being held liable for their users’ copyright infringement.

Article 11, the “link tax”, includes new requirements aimed at making companies like Google pay licensing fees to publications such as newspapers whose work gets aggregated in services like Google News.

Supporters say it prevents multinational companies from freeloading on the work of others without paying for it, but critics argue that it effectively imposes a requirement for paying a fee to link to a website.

Publishers and artists have pushed for the clauses, arguing that they would put an end to widespread infringement on sites such as YouTube and Instagram, while companies including Google and Amazon have attacked the measure as unworkable in practice, and overbearing to the extent that it may force them to close services in Europe.

When the link tax hit Spain, Google stopped carrying Spanish news links, and Spanish media has yet to recover from the loss of viewers.

The automated filters called for in Article 13 don’t work.

They filter out content that is not covered by copyright.

This is going to be a complete clusterf%$#.

Monty Python Abides, Brexit Edition

I see the similarities

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said that Theresa May is like the legless knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

It’s an inspired analogy:

“Tis but a scratch.” “A scratch?! Your arm’s off!” “No it isn’t.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte likened Theresa May to a Monty Python character who refuses to admit defeat despite losing all his limbs in a sword fight.

“I have a lot of respect for Theresa May. She reminds me occasionally of that Monty Python character where all his arms and legs are cut off and then says to his opponent: let’s call it a draw,” Rutte said in an interview on the “WNL op Zondag” TV show, Bloomberg reported.

He was referring to the Black Knight (played by John Cleese, a Brexiteer) in the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” who, even after having all of his limbs cut off by King Arthur, declares “I’m invincible.”

I have no clue as to why May has not been turfed out by her Tory colleagues, but the Dutch PM has her nailed.

Portugal’s Solution to Right Wing Populism

Portugal’s solution is much like Iceland’s solution.

Specifically, they have eschewed German economics and German austerity, and instead have chosen to build up their society, and their societal protections:

Considering the booming economy, dropping unemployment numbers and the return of many once-emigrated young Portuguese citizens, it seems Portugal is on the rise. Facing the policies of socialist Prime Minister António Costa, which include properly supporting the welfare state and investing in the public sector instead of austerity measures, right wing populists don’t stand a chance.

Not too long ago, Portugal stood on the brink of catastrophe: harsh austerity policies and the erosion of labour rights pushed by the conservative government lead to significant rises in poverty and unemployment. The economy dwindled due to the lack of peoples’ spending power.

Today, everything has changed:

“Nowadays, Portugal is considered a prime example among European countries: the economy is booming, unemployment is dropping and investments are rising.”


The first major change occurred during the general election 2015. This was time when the right wing conservative government dismantled the social welfare state piece by piece, which resulted in a furious population voicing their dissatisfaction in the voting booth – causing the conservatives to lose 11 percent of their previous electoral votes.


Costa succeeded in uniting the severely split left wing in Portugal, who now support the minority government led by him. At first, observers were pessimistic about the potential of this constellation, predicting a collapse after a few months. Moreover, both the EU and German minister of finances saw a grave mistake in the departure from austerity.

Angela Merkel described the prospect of a radical anti-austerity coalition in Portugal as “very negative”. The president of Portugal went further, calling non-conservative economic policies a “danger to national security” and attempting to keep the old government in power.


The Portuguese economy has been booming for 4 years. 2017 marked the largest national economic growth of the century.

The Portuguese are not only showing the feasibility of socially conscious policies, but demonstrating the significant potential for success.

“The budget deficit has dropped to its lowest ever since the change to a democratic system in 1974 – simply because the government re-established and strengthened the social welfare state, leading to the Portuguese people having more money to spend.”

The socialists raised the once slashed wages and pensions, reintroduced paid vacations and retracted many tax raises, all while raising wealth taxes which affect only the rich parts of the population. The government also introduced a property and real estate tax designed not to target the homes of average citizens. Costa’s socialists also put an end to the catastrophic privatizations that were once instructed by the EU and resulted in selling state assets at absurdly low prices.

The Germans have been f%$#ing up Europe with their need to run things since 1914.

It Appears That I Was Too Pessimistic

Good news everyone!

I invented a device that makes you read this in your head using my voice!

I thought that the EU’s disastrous article 13 copyright directive was a done deal.

It appears that I was too pessimistic, which is not something that I say too frequently.

It appears that between strong opposition from those who understand how insane that these proposals, and the looters from the content industries, who thought that they were not insane enough, it looks like the EU is backing off this proposal, for a while, at least:

So, this is certainly unexpected. Just hours after we pointed out that even all of the lobbyists who had written/pushed for Article 13 in the EU Copyright Directive were now abandoning their support for it (basically because the EU was considering making it just slightly less awful), it appears that Monday’s negotiations have been called off entirely:

BREAKING: Council has failed to find an agreement on its #copyright position today. This doesn’t mean that #Article11 and #Article13 are dead, but their adoption has just become a lot less likely. Let’s keep up the pressure now! https://t.co/DEYBhuRyGz #SaveYourInternet

— Julia Reda (@Senficon) January 18, 2019


As Reda notes, this does not mean that the Copyright Directive or Article 13 are dead. They could certainly be revived with new negotiations (and that could happen soon). But, it certainly makes the path forward a lot more difficult. Throughout all of this, as we’ve seen in the past, the legacy copyright players plowed forward, accepting no compromise and basically going for broke as fast as they could, in the hopes that no one would stop them. They’ve hit something of a stumbling block here. It won’t stop them from still trying, but for now this is good news. The next step is making sure Article 13 is truly dead and cannot come back. The EU has done a big thing badly in even letting things get this far. Now let’s hope they fix this mess by dumping Articles 11 and 13.

Making Boris F%$#ing Johnson look like Ernst F%$#ing Blofeld:

I am referring, of course, to Theresa May, who didn’t just lose her Brexit vote, but did so by a margin greater than any in modern history, and it’s the first defeat of a treaty in Parliament since 1864.

Jeremy Corbyn is calling for a vote of confidence, as should be expected by the opposition in any Parliamentary Democracy:

British lawmakers defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal by a crushing margin on Tuesday, triggering political chaos that could lead to a disorderly exit from the EU or even to a reversal of the 2016 decision to leave.

After parliament voted 432-202 against her deal, the worst defeat in modern British history, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn promptly called a vote of no confidence in May’s government, to be held at 1900 GMT on Wednesday.

With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Brexit, the United Kingdom is now ensnared in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project that it joined in 1973.


More than 100 of May’s own Conservative lawmakers – both Brexit backers and supporters of EU membership – joined forces to vote down the deal. In doing so, they smashed the previous record defeat for a government, a 166-vote margin, set in 1924.

The humiliating loss, the first British parliamentary defeat of a treaty since 1864, appeared to catastrophically undermine May’s two-year strategy of forging an amicable divorce with close ties to the EU after the March 29 exit.

This is a complete clusterF%$#.

The only bright side for May is that she has left such a dogs breakfast of Brexit that none of the Tories want her job:

If there was any consolation for May, it was that her internal adversaries appeared set to fight off the attempt to topple her.

Seriously, she is making the Trump administration look like bloody geniuses.

They Have Made a Desert, and Called it Peace

Latvia is presented as an EU success story.

Despite an economic downturn, they stabilized their finances, and entered the Euro.

What they neglect to mention is that nearly ⅕ of its population has left, and their remittances, largely from the soon to be leaving Britain, are the only thing keeping their economy afloat:

Atis Sjanits has an unusual remit for an ambassador. The Latvian diplomat is not responsible for relations with another nation — but with his own country’s diaspora.

Sjanits’ job is to respond to the exodus triggered by Latvia’s accession to the EU. Since joining the bloc, nearly a fifth of the nation has left to work in more affluent EU nations: The U.K., Ireland, Germany.

In 2000, Latvia’s population stood at 2.38 million. At the start of this year, it was 1.95 million. No other country has had a more precipitous fall in population — 18.2 percent according to U.N. statistics. Only Latvia’s similarly fast-shriveling neighbor, Lithuania, with a 17.5 percent decrease, and Georgia, with a 17.2 percent drop, come close.

Seriously, the fact that Latvia is considered a success by Brussels when it has become unlivable that 18.2% of its population have effectively become refugees positively boggles the mind.

Like All Anti-Piracy Lists: FAIL

The EU is releasing a list of infringing sites, and the surprising thing is not that it is full of non-infringing sites, they all do, but that it includes Cloudflare, which is a close to a core technology for the whole internet as any single company gets these days:

In mid-January, the EU is hoping to finalize the EU Copyright Directive, including Article 13, which will effectively create mandatory copyright filters for many internet websites (while, laughably, insisting it creates no such burden — but leaving no other option for most sites). One of the key arguments being made by supporters of Article 13 is that it’s crazy to think that this law will be used to block legitimate content. This is pretty silly, considering how frequently we write about bogus DMCA takedowns. As if trying to prove just how bad they are at properly classifying infringing content, the EU recently released its “Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List”, which is a sort of EU version of the USTR’s “notorious markets” list. That list has been widely mocked for basically declaring any site that Hollywood doesn’t like “notorious”, even if no court has ever ruled that it’s breaking the law.

It would appear that the EU list has the same sort of problem. For example among the sites listed in the EU report is Cloudflare, a platform used by tons of internet companies (including Techdirt) as a CDN or to protect against DoS attacks (among other things). Cloudflare is simply a tool — like a phone line — that tons of internet companies use. If some of them are doing things that are against the law, that should be on those sites, not Cloudflare. Unfortunately, the EU doesn’t seem to care.

CloudFlare is a US based company, which provides hosting service combined with other services, including CDN services and distributed domain name server (DNS) services. According to the creative industries (film, music, book publishers, etc.) and other organisations, CloudFlare is used by approximately 40% of the pirate websites in the world. It operates as a front host between the user and the website’s back host, routing and filtering all content through its network of servers. Out of the top 500 infringing domains based on global Alexa rankings, 62% (311) are using CloudFlare’s services, according to stakeholders. A sample list of 6,337 infringing domain names presented by the film industry showed over 30% (2,119) using CloudFlare’s services.

 This is like claiming Verizon is a dope dealer because dope dealers use cell phones.

First, You Burn down Parliament, and THEN You Go with Slave Labor

It appears that Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has moved too quickly to make slave labor a reality in his country:

Viktor Orban, the far-right prime minister of Hungary, has been confronted by an unusually persistent wave of street protests after pushing through a bill this month that could require workers to put in up to 400 hours of overtime — a measure that opponents call a “slave law.”

About 5,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Budapest again on Friday, after President Janos Ader signed the bill into law. In a radio interview Friday morning, Mr. Orban dismissed opposition to the changes as “hysterical shouting.”

Since re-entering office in 2010, Mr. Orban has made a series of moves that have set off alarms among European allies and others in Hungary: curbing judicial independence, restricting news media freedom and plurality, and blatantly enriching his business allies. But few of his actions have ignited such anger as the changes to the labor law.

What does the law say?

The amendments to the Hungarian labor code passed by the governing majority in Parliament raise the yearly cap on overtime to 400 hours from 250, and gives companies three years instead of one to pay for the work.

In some cases it also lets them avoid paying extra for overtime, allowing them to compensate some employees at their regular hourly rate instead, experts said.


Analysts say the labor law changes have struck a rare chord among ordinary Hungarians, including outside the opposition heartland of the capital, Budapest, because the issue affects their daily lives.


Why did the government take this step?

The government needs Hungarians to accept longer hours because the country is running out of workers.

As many as 350,000 Hungarians, or more than 5 percent of the country’s working-age population, are working in another part of the European Union, according to Mr. Kollo.

These people have left to work elsewhere because pay is complete sh%$ in Hungary.

You have people voting with their feet.

Opponents of the changes argue that they were passed as a favor to multinational companies like German automakers, which have built plants in the country in recent years and whose economic model depends on a cheap and flexible work force.

And there you have it:  It’s a desperate race to the bottom, and this is a (possibly the) core EU value, which, ironically enough, has denied Orban the freedom of action that (for example) Mussolini had in the 1920s.

It will be fascinating to see where this ends, but my guess is that it’s time for the ordinary Hungarian to get the f%$# out of Dodge.

Italy Just Caved

The Italian government has capitulated to Brussels on its budget:

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte forged a deal with populist leaders to submit a revised budget proposal to the European Commission, in a bid to avert fines against Italy.

Conte’s euroskeptic deputies Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, who hold most of the political power in the administration, set aside their opposition to concessions at talks running late into Sunday night and agreed on a new package to send to Brussels, government officials said.

Because shrinking your economy is the best way to get out of debt, if you are a mad dog or a German economist.

The Italian budget is already in primary surplus (excluding debt payments), but more cuts are demanded because of an unwillingness to recognize that Brussels’, and Berlin’s, world view is creating poverty and right wing populism.

Lucky That No One Else Wants the Job

So Theresa May has managed to survive a vote of no confidence from fellow members of the Conservative Party.

I have to think that the members who supported her was because no one wants to take her seat on the political electric chair.

May seems to realize it as well, as she nas now stated that she will not be standing for reelection.

It really is remarkable how poorly Brexit has been managed since David Cameron promised a referendum, never expecting that it would pass.

Since that point, there has been no preparation for a hard Brexit, and the first action taken by the Tories was to cede any leverage they had by taking EU expats in the UK off of the table, and now they have a deal where they will be out, but unable to negotiate trade deals on their own, and any change must be approved by every single member of the EU.

Charles de Gaulle must be sitting in his tomb laughing.

Nice Troll, Dude

The head of the 5-Star movement in Italy has suggested that France is risking budget sanctions from the EU because of Macron’s capitulation to protesters.

There is no real risk for France though, because, as Orwell observed, “Some are more equal than others,” but you have to admire the quality of the trolling:

Emmanuel Macron’s decision to make costly concessions to French protesters has prompted angry recriminations in Italy and Germany, where political leaders signalled Paris’ new spending plans could intensify Europe’s tense fiscal debate.

Luigi Di Maio, a leader of Italy’s populist government, said that France should be punished for breaching the EU’s deficit limits after Mr Macron promised tax cuts and handouts that could cost up to €10bn, arguing Rome was being sanctioned for similar “emergency” budget plans.

Mr Macron’s measures, designed to assuage the gilets jaunes protesters, would “cause a widening of the deficit” and should require the European Commission to “also open a case against France, if the rules apply to all,” said Mr Di Maio, head of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

Italy is in the middle of a bruising fight with Brussels over its breach of promised spending limits, with the European Commission calling the populist coalition’s new spending plans an “unprecedented” breach of its budgetary rules.

The real problem here is not the deficit, of course, it is that the EU is dominated by Germany, and failed German economics, and like the last disastrous turn, we are seeing the rise of Fascism in Europe as a result.

Dropping the “A Word” on Brexit

This is rather evocative language within the context of British Politics, and what it evokes is well deserved loathing of May and her Evil Minions:

Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, has launched a stinging attack on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, likening it to the appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s.

In a sweeping attack on No 10, the Treasury and his successor, Mark Carney, the Brexit-supporting King said the political elite was allowing the UK to become a vassal state that would be forced to accept Brussels diktats. He described the deal negotiated by the government as “incompetence of a high order”.

King’s comments came as Carney told the Treasury select committee on Tuesday that the price of food could go up by 10% if the UK left the EU with no deal and with no plans to avoid chaos at the country’s ports.

He said Britain’s ports were not ready for a shift to World Trade Organization rules for the country’s exports and imports with the EU.

King, however, slammed May’s deal as “a muddled commitment to perpetual subordination from which the UK cannot withdraw without the agreement of the EU”.

He added: “It simply beggars belief that a government could be hellbent on a deal that hands over £39bn while giving the EU both the right to impose laws on the UK indefinitely and a veto on ending this state of fiefdom.”

May’s Brexit deal is so bad that it could have been negotiated by Donald Trump.

Tweet of the Day

BBC reporting that May is banking on people being so bored with Brexit that they will support her deal so they don't have to hear about it again.
Like being so bored with your food you take a large dose of strychnine so you don't have to eat it again.

— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) November 26, 2018

Given her justaposition of unlikability, incompetence, and complete lack of political instincts, I am not sure how Theresa May remains at 10 Downing Street.

Your Mouth to God’s Ear

There has been a ruling involving a small French advertising firm which could completely reshape online advertising.

Basically, the court ruled that consent to collect information could not be passed onto third parties though a contract under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations.

If this stands, it will completely reshape internet advertising, IMNSHO for the better:

A ruling in late October against a little-known French adtech firm that popped up on the national data watchdog’s website earlier this month is causing ripples of excitement to run through privacy watchers in Europe who believe it signals the beginning of the end for creepy online ads.

The excitement is palpable.

Impressively so, given the dry CNIL decision against mobile “demand side platform” Vectaury was only published in the regulator’s native dense French legalese.

Here is the bombshell though: Consent through the @IABEurope framework is inherently invalid. Not because of a technical detail. Not because of an implementation aspect that could be fixed. No.
You cannot pass consent to another controller through a contractual relationship. BOOM pic.twitter.com/xMlNHJTKwl

— Robin Berjon (@robinberjon) November 16, 2018


In plainer English, this is being interpreted by data experts as the regulator stating that consent to processing personal data cannot be gained through a framework arrangement which bundles a number of uses behind a single “I agree” button that, when clicked, passes consent to partners via a contractual relationship.


The firm was harvesting a bunch of personal data (including people’s location and device IDs) on its partners’ mobile users via an SDK embedded in their apps, and receiving bids for these users’ eyeballs via another standard piece of the programmatic advertising pipe — ad exchanges and supply side platforms — which also get passed personal data so they can broadcast it widely via the online ad world’s real-time bidding (RTB) system. That’s to solicit potential advertisers’ bids for the attention of the individual app user… The wider the personal data gets spread, the more potential ad bids.

That scale is how programmatic works. It also looks horrible from a GDPR “privacy by design and default” standpoint.

This cuts to the core of the current advertising model, and Google and Facebook’s current dominance of online advertising.

It should get very interesting.