Facebook makes you sit up and take notice. The British former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a new Head of Global Affairs for Facebook, was barely introduced when he made his first interesting public statements.
“Regulation is not so bad”, Clegg told the Financial Times. As a former senior member of the government, presumably this comes naturally to Clegg because he simply knows it from his work.
Clegg made another surprising yet unsurprising statement on the subject of campaigns. In light of the possible influence of Facebook advertising on elections, Clegg promised that future campaigns on Facebook would be clearly labeled, for example, „Paid By.”
Facebook is somewhat ahead of the EU in this respect, which is currently making efforts to do something about disinformation—especially in view of the EU election in May 2019.
This includes Brussels demanding monthly updates from Internet companies such as Google or Facebook, in which they must present what they have actually done to counter disinformation by, at a minimum, providing greater transparency. We will see whether this effort to promote greater transparency is successful, and one might be forgiven for having doubts based on past performance, but evolution is an agonizingly slow process.
The other way
The Saveyourinternet.eu campaign takes a completely different approach masked in lack of transparency. As described in detail in earlier articles, the website played a central role in the attempted manipulation of EU parliamentarians by mail avalanches and Twitter storms in the summer of 2018.
The website was registered at the time by the lobby company N-Square from Belgium, which also does work for Google.
If you look at the current registration data for the website, you will see that the site is now anonymous. The French company Gandi SAS is used for this purpose, which conveniently effectively disguises the data of the registrant.
So it is not clear who is responsible for the page, because even a close examination of the page itself is anything but illuminating. There is a note indicating that the organization EDRi manages the side, but that does not meet the requirements of the E-Commerce Directive which requires a legal notice identifying a responsible person and address.
One can only speculate about the reasons why EDRi has jumped into the breach here.
Maybe N-Square and its managing director, Caroline De Cock, wanted to get out of the line of fire after the response to its action against the MEPs from summer 2018.
However, presumably through oversight, other websites involved in the campaign against the EU copyright reform have not been changed, although their look and feel is very similar to that of the Saveyourinternet site.
Fixcopyright.eu e.g. still has registration data of Ms De Cock and her parent company KDC Group.
And it should also not go unmentioned that the partners of Create.Refresh parent company, Purpose Campaigns LLC, include, among others, Google and the Ford Foundation.
Fixcoypright.eu therefore violates the E-Commerce Directive as well as Saveyouinternet.eu.
In addition, there are no data protection notices on Fixcopyright.eu in accordance with the GDPR, which has been in force in the EU since May 2018. Visitors to the site are redirected to Twitter, for example, but they are not informed of this in any privacy notices, which of course also apply to so-called civil society groups and commercial campaigning sites.
In the end, however, it remains a kind of family business.
If one superimposes the financiers of EDRi and Copyright4Creativity, which is still managed by Caroline de Cock, or Purpose Campaigns, there are interesting intersections, be it the Open Society Foundation or the Ford Foundation. These two foundations alone accounted for almost 37% of EDRi revenues in 2017.
Even more exciting is the list of other EDRi donors.
One of them is Mozilla, who is known for financing Open Media, the company that via its subsidiary New/Mode provided the tools for the attack on the offices of members of parliament in the summer of 2018.
Open your wallets
Another donor is Wikipedia Germany.
Anyone who visits Wikipedia from October onwards will hardly be able to escape the appeals for donations. This was of course also the case in 2018.
Wouldn’t it be more honest in the course of such appeals for donations to say that a large part of the money collected in Germany is thrown into the big pile of money that Wikipedia has in the USA and currently amounts to more than 120 million dollars?
An amount for which one could finance the online encyclopedia probably for years without problems.
How this is compatible with Wikipedia’s non-profit status in Germany is another question that I will leave to another day.
Against this background, the statements made by John Weitzmann of Wikipedia Germany close association Wikimedia Germany e. V. deserve further scrutiny. At a coypright congress in Berlin in November 2018, in front of roughly 250 people, Weitzmann declared that Wikipedia had never supported http://Saveyourinternet.eu . Apparently, he had, or has, a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction as this was clearly not the case. Or perhaps he was misled by Wikipedia and Saveyourinternet’s own disinformation campaign—a campaign itself rooted in obfuscation.
Of course, the picture of deception is incomplete without considering the role of Julia Reda, the only member of the Pirate Party in the EU Parliament. Ms. Reda has been very busy promoting a meme generator on Twitter right now. Putting aside the fact that memes are not affected by the directive, it is highly instructive to observe the provenance of this tool so favored by Ms. Reda…CreateRefresh! Part of
paid campaign by Purpose Campaigns LLC, which as noted earlier, also lobbies for Google. So the circles are closing here as well.
It will be interesting to see how the EU reacts to all these events.
Commissioner Mariya Gabriel was presented with comprehensive documentary evidence in Strasbourg at the beginning of December, which presents and proves the background of the non-transparent campaign against the EU, undertaken in conflict with the requirements of existing EU legislation.
Changes such as the changes to the Saveyourinternet.eu website indicate that the campaign operators are apparently aware of the terrain they have entered.
Volker Rieck is managing director of the content protection service provider FDS File Defense Service, which works for numerous rights owners. The company also prepares studies on piracy and supports law enforcement companies with the data it collects.
Volker Rieck blogs regularly on Webschauder and from time to time on the US blog The Trichordist on various aspects of unregulated content distribution. His articles also appear on Tarnkappe.info and in the FAZ.