As someone who grew up in San Francisco and wrote the book on the shady history of Silicon Valley — I simply can’t let this go. I mean, check it out: Turns out that the guy running to unseat Nancy Pelosi from “the left” is a corporate Silicon Valley astroturfer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
His name is Shahid Buttar.
Why is this significant? EFF is America’s oldest and most influential internet business lobby — an organization that has played a pivotal role in shaping the internet as it exists today. That privatized telecommunication system that’s owned by giant monopolies, powered by for-profit surveillance and influence ops, dominated by spies, and lacking any democratic oversight? Yep, that one. EFF is directly responsible for bringing it into being — and for making sure it stays privatized, shitty, and oligarchic.
As I wrote in my massive investigation into EFF’s shady history and it’s pro-Silicon Valley astroturf tricks for The Baffler a few years back, this organization has done an amazing job convincing us that it’s one of the good guys on the Internet — that it’s grassroots and on the side of the people. In reality, EFF has always been on the side of corporations, fighting against democratic control of Silicon Valley — from making sure ISPs could grow into giant monopolies to blowing up the first (and only) attempt to regulate Google’s surveillance business model back in 2004.
[Editor Charlie sez: In more news from the Goolag, another awesome panel from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business Artist Rights Symposium, this time on the Internet Archive’s “National Emergency Library” with the Anonymous Librarian, John Degen, Jonathan Taplin, Robert Levine, and moderated by Terrica Carrington.]
[Google shilleries are shifting into overdrive to attack the copyright small claims legislation–Public Knowledge, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Engine have launched their FUD campaign (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) to create their usual maelstrom of half truths and outright fraud against consumers as directed by their corporate masters from Silicon Valley. The truth doesn’t fit the narrative.]
The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (the CASE Act), H.R. 2426 and S. 1273, a bill that would create an optional small claims tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office, was introduced by Congress in May 2019. Before that, it had been introduced in different forms in prior Congresses as well. Over that time, and especially this year, just about every aspect of the bill has been held under a microscope, poked and prodded and discussed ad nauseum. There has been so much analysis and discussion of the provisions of the CASE Act that it’s hard to believe that there could possibly be some aspect of the bill that has gone unnoticed. But in fact, there is one aspect of the bill that has largely gone undiscussed. It’s time for that to change….
Anti-copyright groups like EFF, Public Knowledge and Engine counter that these protections are essentially ineffective because most of the recipients of takedown notices are individuals who do not have the money to sue in federal court  and because these recipients are often too afraid to file DMCA counter-notices because of the requirement in the DMCA that the counter-notice include a “statement that the subscriber consents to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which the address is located.…”  As a result, these groups argue that, despite the statutory protections and defenses afforded to recipients under the DMCA, the DMCA takedown process is being misused because users with meritorious fair use and misrepresentation claims are not able to avail themselves of them.
If only there were a solution for this—perhaps some legislation in Congress that might help address these concerns. In fact, there is and it’s called the CASE Act, a bill that would create an optional small claims tribunal to resolve the following types of claims by both copyright owners and users of copyrighted material…
Editors note #1 – Over the last year, this blog has been reporting on Google’s apparent use of proxies in an attempt to intimidate members of the EU parliament into voting against the proposed EU Copyright Directive. The Copyright Directive requires social media platforms above a certain size to do more to counter copyright infringement […]
There probably has never been as revealing an insight into Google’s short, loathsome and treacherous lifespan as the Article 13 legislative process in the European Parliament. It has put a microscope on Google’s fake lobbying campaign, but it also shows the extent of Google’s influence peddling to protect its profits from the European version of what we call the DMCA safe harbor.
The concentration of the Article 13 astroturf campaign seems to be centered in Germany and Poland. No surprise there–Google has been investing in European academics for a decade. Thanks to the Google Transparency Project, we know considerable detail about the extent of that investment.
Google has spent millions of euros funding European academics to write papers on digital policy, bankrolling university institutes and think-tanks in London, Berlin, Brussels, Paris and Warsaw
Over the past decade, Google has invested heavily in European academic institutions to develop an influential network of friendly academics, paying tens of millions of euros to think tanks, universities and professors that write research papers supporting its business interests.
Those academics and institutions span the length and breadth of Europe, from countries with major influence in European Union policymaking, such as Germany and France, to Eastern European nations like Poland….
For example, Google has paid at least €9 million to help set up the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) at Berlin’s Humboldt University. The new group launched in 2011, after German policymakers voiced growing concerns over Google’s accumulated power.
The Institute has so far published more than 240 scholarly papers on internet policy issues, many onissues of central importance to Google’s bottom line. HIIG also runs a Google-funded journal, with which several Google-funded scholars are affiliated, to publish such research….
And in Poland, Google has funded the Digital Economy Lab (DELab) at the University of Warsaw, similarly described as an interdisciplinary institute that will research and design policies governing technology issues. Second, Google has created and endowed chairs at higher-learning institutions in European countries including France, Spain, Belgium, and Poland. Those chairs have often been occupied by academics with a track record of producing research that closely aligns with Google’s policy priorities….
Europe’s importance for Google cannot be overstated. It is both a key market, with usage rates above 80 percent in many countries, and the most organized source of opposition to its expansion plans. The European Commission is arguably the only regulator beyond the U.S. with sufficient clout to cause Google to alter its conduct. European officials have levied billions of dollars in fines for antitrust violations and have enacted some of the most stringent laws in the world to protect consumer privacy.
Strangely enough–sarcasm alert–the countries where Google has made its most significant purchase of academic mind share are also the countries where opposition to Article 13 seems the greatest, especially Germany and Poland.
But the larger point is that there should be no doubt in the mind of any artist anywhere in the world that Google and its fellow travelers are not your friends, never were and never will be.