2019-04-11 Takedown Notices

I just read Official EU Agencies Falsely Report More Than 550 Archive.org URLs as Terrorist Content: “At least 550 archive.org URLs were falsely identified by the EU IRU in the past week as terrorist propaganda...” and then they proceed to list some examples of asinine negligence like the major overview pages where user uploaded content will surely be linked, but also scholarly articles, or US government-produced broadcasts and reports, and more.

This illustrates the many important, negative aspects of what this sort of legislation will do:

  1. Scope creep results in attempts at ever broader interpretation of what falls under the forbidden umbrella
  2. These attempts at expansion don’t cost much to the accuser and so there is always some idiot working for an organization somewhere who will attempt to include an item that does not belong.
  3. Automation allows people to scan for content automatically and submit items automatically, multiplying the false accusations.
  4. Lack of due process as every item challenged eventually ends in court and therefore all the efficiency gains of the digital world are suddenly lost.
  5. The cost of the process is born by the host. Stricter time limits increase these costs.

Now a small number of people can provide the entire Internet Archive for millions of users but once you add these Takedown laws (because of the fear of terrorists, or the fear of copyright violators, and so on), this is no longer possible, as the same small number of people cannot comply with these requirements, or are not reimbursed for the disproportionate cost of investigating accusations.

Essentially, what happens is that these kinds of services with user uploaded content (archives, blogs, wikis, forums, social media, video hosts, and so on) are burdened with too much processing cost and thus we return to the “good old days” where only the media giants thrived, each supporting s host of lawyers with nothing to do but fight these shadow wars.

Yes, I also don’t want the Internet to be a cesspit of crime. At the same time, I want the efficiency gains of digitalization that allow a small number of people to provide the Internet Archive to us all, and I want to host my sites like the Campaign Wiki without having to employ censors or lawyers.

If you are faced with voting for or against such laws, consider how it is implemented and demand better legislation. For the millions of false takedown claims to be free for all is lazy legislation. It’s bad design. Demand that our law makers think harder.

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Requests to remove content due to copyright, government requests to remove content, and more, as published by Google – a window into the world of takedowns.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-11 05:44 UTC


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