[Appropos of the MTP post: Factiness EU Style: A Dedicated Group of Like Minded People Carpet Bombs The European Parliament (which gave historical context to the latest manipulation of governments by Google), Volker Rieck at WebShauder gives the view from the ground in Europe of how the assault was manipulated. In a post-Cambridge Analytical world, no one with a brain can believe this was just spontaneous. Plus, the methods are nearly identical to those we have seen in “protests” going back to 2009 at least and pointing to the Obama Administration’s practices on not basing policy choices on unreplecatable and unreliable casual polling, anonymous email campaigns and social media.]
The battle cries of “upload filter” deployed in opposition to Article 13 of the directive were not much better. Upload filters were not and are still not mentioned in the directive, but the term is eminently suited to stoking fear. And Reda [the sole Pirate Party MEP] did indeed succeed in her efforts to fool some of her supporters into believing that EVERYTHING on the internet will be filtered in the future if the directive is adopted in its current form and that memes – yes, even people’s much-beloved memes – will all be banned.
While this was completely at variance with the actual content of the directive, that appeared to be of merely tangential interest. What the directive proposed was that platforms (and only platforms) would be strongly encouraged to enter into license agreements with rightsholders covering user uploaded content.
Responsibility for taking out licenses would rest with the platforms, and end-users would be completely in the clear. The idea was simply that platforms would have a duty to maintain transparency to ensure correct licensing and the proper distribution of payments made for licenses to rightsholders. Under the directive, operators of a platform which had not concluded a licensing agreement would have been liable for unlicensed content on their platforms. How operators chose to keep their platforms clean would have been up to them. But preventing copyright violations would have come within their remit of responsibility.
And which platform would be most affected by Article 13?
[C]ontent-sharing platforms [are] the real issue here, let us look at one of the most successful ones, YouTube. The directive is interested only in regulating platforms like this, not in open-source platforms or sales platforms.
For years now, YouTube has been using its Content ID system. This system allows rightsholders who submit content to determine what should happen when users view it. The available options span the gamut from monetization (an end user uploads a video with music, for example, and the rightsholder gets a share of any advertising revenue generated) all the way to – please be brave now, Sascha Lobo and Julia Reda – blocking the video. The primary purpose of this system is to prevent third parties from generating revenue with content they have no entitlement to exploit.
But what about the protests?
This brings us nicely to the issue of the rallies against the new directive. A demonstration was held, of course. It took place on 24 June 2018 in Berlin. Rather unfortunately for the protesters, it rained that day; otherwise they would have been able to count the usual hordes of tourists at the Brandenburg Gate among their numbers. Under the circumstances, only those who had turned up to protest were counted, an estimated 150 people. As with an earlier demonstration focused on the ancillary copyright of press publishers, the turnout was so low that there were presumably more press photographers than activists in attendance.
This is of course exactly what we have seen with so many “protests” mobilized by groups like Fight for the Future and the EFF. Nobody shows up. That’s why they need the bots.
And here is where the investigation is required.
What came now was the hour of the bots, the automatically generated emails, the automatically placed phone calls and the miraculous multiplication of protest, or rather its simulation….[T]he inboxes of EU parliamentarians were flooded with automatically generated emails. Some EU parliamentarians reported having received 60,000 emails. In total, 6 million emails appear to have been dispatched to EU parliamentarians in this fashion. Compare that number to the handful of protesters in Berlin.
Almost all the emails were identical in content, phrasing and formatting, and many even came from one and the same sender, presumably following the logic that more is better. A very large number of them were sent from the domain Opendata.eu.
This site has no content. It was registered by an English limited company which is in turn a majority holding of a US Inc. that trades in domains and provides services. No civil rights initiative appears to be involved.
Did accepting responsibility for the relentless online bombardment of parliamentarians seem too risky?
The picture was repeated on Twitter, where accounts were flooded with spam, but also threats.
What had happened? Sites such as Saveyourinternet.eu had made tools available that enable this kind of email carpet bombing. The supporters of this site include an array of internet lobby groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Anyone who believes that the EFF are a grassroots civil rights movement should take a look at this report.
Same stuff, different day.
And this is why, of course, the Google Shillery is on the attack from multiple corners. The talking points email has already gone out, no doubt.
This is a must read post by Volker Rieck, and should prompt a complete investigation of the attack. The crimes, if any, were not committed by the handful of real citizens communicating with their government with good intentions.
The crimes were committed, no doubt, by multinational corporations using the well-intentioned as human shields by manipulating the democratic process in Cambridge Anaytica-fashion. And the one corporation that stands the most to lose is Google and they should be the first ones under the microscope, particularly since they just got socked with another multi-billion dollar fine by the European Commission.
ERRATA: Unfortunately, we didn’t correctly attribute the post to Volker Rieck in the initial draft but thanks to a reader we got the correct information and deeply apologize for the oversight.