The European Commission has today published its mid-term review of the Digital Single Market strategy – as a Word document with “track changes” left on. At the halfway stage, the European Commission is failing to live up to its ambitions.

Former Digital Commissioner Oettinger let big business interests sabotage the project of tearing down of digital borders in key areas, leaving the Digital Single Market project with more holes than Swiss cheese.

The lofty goals the Commission restates in its mid-term review are in blatant contradiction to legislative proposals it has put before Parliament on issues such as copyright and geoblocking:

Timid action on Geoblocking

Status Quo: The Commission has omitted copyrighted content, and especially video-on-demand services, from its anti-geoblocking directive, despite its own research showing that the discriminatory practice of geoblocking is especially rampant there.

Hindering Eu startups

Goal:Status Quo: The Commission’s proposed extra copyright for news sites has been branded “poison to European entrepreneurs” in the ScaleUp Europe Manifesto.

Startups have warned that their ability to innovate, to compete in the global internet economy and to create growth and jobs in Europe is under threat by copyright reform plans.

More legal uncertainty

Goal:Status Quo: Independent academics have warned that the Commission’s proposed changes to copyright rules for internet platforms “would introduce an unacceptable level of uncertainty”.

Harming AI development

Goal:Status Quo: The Commission has proposed to limit the scope of the copyright exception allowing text and data mining only to research institutions, putting European AI startups who rely on this technology at a disadvantage compared to competitors elsewhere.

Censorship tech rather than laws

In a last minute addition to the document, the European Commission continues down a dangerous route by announcing dialogues with industry on censorship technologies. There will be no voice for users and no safeguards to prevent wrongful takedowns or protect freedom of speech and expression. Actual legislation on improving the notice and takedown of illegal content on online platforms in order to protect fundamental rights and due process is off the table.

With Commission Vice-President Ansip not showing any sign of changing course, it falls to the European Parliament to mend the holes punched into the Digital Single Market by corporate lobbying and deliver on the promise of a borderless online environment that truly benefits the people of Europe.

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One comment

  1. 1

    The changes I see in there are from Ann-Sofie Ronnlund, Jörgen Gren and Judith Fischer — isn’t it actually the job of these three to polish the document? How do we know they originate in big business?