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New EU law threatens online rights in Europe

Web Foundation · March 26, 2019

The European Parliament has voted to adopt a controversial reform of copyright rules, passed by a margin of 348 to 274.

Alongside other digital rights groups and activists, we have long opposed critical aspects of the Copyright Directive on the basis that it threatens to undermine some basic principles of a free and open web.

Responding to the vote, Nnenna Nwakanma, Web Foundation Policy Director, said:

“We’re extremely disappointed by the EU’s decision to move forward with its flawed Copyright Directive despite mass mobilisation online and marching on the streets of Europe; despite grave concern voiced by human rights advocates, internet experts, entrepreneurs and the UN Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression; and despite clear signs that it will impact human rights.

The Directive will most likely lead to the mass incorporation of filters for content uploaded in Europe, putting people’s right to free speech at the mercy of an algorithmic lottery. It will also create an infrastructure that governments in the EU and beyond can repurpose to clamp down on dissent. We cannot allow this to become the new normal.

As national governments move towards implementing the Directive, we must remain vigilant to ensure they do so in a way that protects free speech and privacy. The World Wide Web was created with a vision of collaboration and co-creation and we need to uphold and guarantee these as much as possible.”


The text of the Directive will now go for formal approval by European ministers. Assuming it passes and becomes law, each EU country must transpose the directive into national legislation.

While today’s decision is a blow, we must remember that the future of the web is ultimately up to its users. We will continue to fight for a web that is free, open and for everyone and we need you with us.

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