Root-causing regulatory failure

The European Parliament’s JURI committee passed on Wednesday a deeply flawed proposed amendment to the copyright directive that could break the Internet for almost everyone. It is just the latest in a stream of misguided legislation responding to the lobbying of special interests trying to triage the effects of the Internet on their expectations of wealth and control. There is still time to contact MEPs to avoid its damage – see

While the putative targets of much of this bad legislation are US new-wave corporations — especially Google and Facebook — the actual victims are repeatedly the Europeans who are our best hope of countering this US corporate power; citizen-innovators. Far from gutting Google’s guns and foiling Facebook’s finagling, the new rules — notably GDPR and now the new copyright rules — give them and their peers unintended power over European innovators.

A root cause of many of the problems with British and European legislation regarding the Internet is a failure to recognise that, in the meshed society it creates, the citizen can play roles previously reserved for the corporation. I can create published works, I can directly fund new ventures, I can build global-scale applications and so on.

Believing these and other capabilities to only be within the scope of corporations, legislation frequently fails to observe the impact of regulations on individuals. Penalties are disproportionate, recourse is onerous or absent, restrictions are asymetric. Consequently, only well-resourced corporations can hope to fully comply — an exclusionary gift to the large and established players and a further smack in the face of European innovators.

To make significant progress with any “Digital Charter” of the kind the UK government purports to love, we first need to recognise that the Internet has created a meshed society of opportunity for all and not just a new market for the winners of the previous age to re-sell their old goods and methods. Until the legislators consult open source developers, self-published writers and musicians and other small-but-scaleable innovators, new rules targetting the Internet will only result in reinforced oligarchies.

A Europe Of Treaties?

I am no fan of elitist bureaucracy, but I am not a euro-sceptic. I am convinced the European Parliament and the civil service around it is close to the best available compromise for this part of history.

Without getting too starry-eyed about it all, I would especially prefer the European Parliament to continue to exist. Without it, european economic strategy would be negotiated between civil servants supporting national cabinets in treaty-making, using opaque and unaccountable processes. The Parliament gives us a real opportunity for scrutiny – and a democratic veto through our elected representatives – on each European policy issue, which change-by-treaty would not give us.

If we want a Europe where treaties like ACTA and TPP are the democratic norm, scrap the European parliament. If we want all the change that happens to be done in whatever the post-tobacco equivalent of smoke-filled rooms is, scrap the European Parliament. And, for the benefit of the raving right in the UK, if you want the UK’s primary trading market to be controlled invisibly via undocumented and unaccountable negotiations between the political lackeys of plutocrats, vote for the UK to “leave” the EU.

This is not to say it’s got everything right, but scrapping it or withdrawing from it passes control back to unaccountable treaty-negotiating mandarins and the corporate lobbyists who direct them. Britain can’t leave Europe. But it can choose to longer have a say in how it works.

☏ URGENT: Has Your MEP Signed The ACTA Written Declaration?

Geeks Vote Too logoHere is a list of MEPs for UK constituencies. As of now, none of these MEPs has signed the Written Declaration on ACTA.It’s entirely possible one of them is representing you – or rather, failing to do so.

Since we now only need nine more signatures in the next two days to enact this Written Declaration (which is not extreme – it makes very reasonable statements about the European Parliament’s attitude towards ACTA), you can make a real difference by calling your MEP or if you prefer using WriteToThem, and asking them to sign the Declaration so that the attempt at an end-run round democracy is rejected by the Parliament. You might want to say something like:

As a constituent I am worried that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that’s being secretly negotiated internationally may well use a treaty to impose terms that have neither been discussed nor agreed by you in the European Parliament. Please will you sign Written Declaration 12/2010 right away (before it expires on Wednesday night) so that the Commission knows that the Parliament will not accept a fait accomplis?

The following had NOT signed at 11pm UK time on Monday:

  • William (The Earl of) DARTMOUTH
  • John Stuart AGNEW
  • Richard ASHWORTH
  • Gerard BATTEN
  • Godfrey BLOOM
  • Sharon BOWLES
  • Philip BRADBOURN
  • John BUFTON
  • Martin CALLANAN
  • Michael CASHMAN
  • Derek Roland CLARK
  • Trevor COLMAN
  • Nirj DEVA
  • Diane DODDS
  • James ELLES
  • Nigel FARAGE
  • Vicky FORD
  • Ashley FOX
  • Julie GIRLING
  • Daniel HANNAN
  • Richard HOWITT
  • Stephen HUGHES
  • Syed KAMALL
  • Sajjad KARIM
  • Timothy KIRKHOPE
  • Elizabeth LYNNE
  • David MARTIN
  • Linda McAVAN
  • Arlene McCARTHY
  • Emma McCLARKIN
  • Claude MORAES
  • Paul NUTTALL
  • Brian SIMPSON
  • Peter SKINNER
  • Struan STEVENSON
  • Catherine STIHLER
  • Charles TANNOCK
  • Geoffrey VAN ORDEN
  • Derek VAUGHAN
  • Glenis WILLMOTT

If you can’t remember who your MEPs are, open WriteToThem in a new tab or window, enter your postcode and check down the list. If you’re in Europe but outside the UK, the list on Quadrature can be sorted by country for you to check.

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