The internet has changed so much about how we live so quickly, and now the organizations and bodies that govern our lives are scrambling to reckon with and control those changes. Privacy and ownership rights have faced perhaps some of the biggest challenges in an era where both so much content and personal information is spread widely and quickly. And the policies that governments put in place to try and combat those issues could change how millions experience the internet.
Many of us are familiar with the EU's new GDPR policies in regards to personal data collected on websites, not least because of the seemingly countless emails we received from websites obligated to let us know how their data collection policies had changed to comply with the new rules. Now the EU is contemplating new laws to combat copyright concerns that could have wide-reaching effects both positive and negative.
Under the proposed law, websites would be required to take measures that would prevent copyrighted materials from being uploaded. Another key element of the law is requiring a fee paid to news outlets by websites and apps that use snippets of their work. The specifics of each proposal require more work in hammering out detail and implementation before they can be put into effect, but the laws seem clear in their aim of demanding that tech giants like Google and Facebook accept responsibility for the content on their platforms.
The proposed changes are not without their detractors, who raise legitimate concerns about how these new requirements could negatively impact platforms and users alike. Requiring payment for the use of snippets might end the practice of including previews with links and could ultimately hurt the traffic directed back to those sites. And preventing the unauthorized spread of copyrights materials through the possible use of automated filters raise a whole host of issues and potential unintended consequences.
Without the insight that human moderators can provide, filters can wrongly flag material that is fairly citing others' works in their own, and leave themselves open to exploitation, with false ownership claims made over works the claimant doesn't own. There are also concerns over the heavy burden this places on smaller companies that can't devote the resources to filters and other measures to ensure compliance.
While the path from proposal to law remains undetermined, the EU's effort to bring the internet and the apps and platforms that live on in under control is a fascinating case study for the future of regulation on the internet.