With just two weeks to go until the final vote on upload filters in the European Parliament, one hundred MEPs have pledged to vote against Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive. Many citizens feel like their legitimate fears about the future of the internet are not taken seriously, as lawmakers insult them as being "bots" or simply "a mob". Public protests demanding the removal of Article 13 have been announced in 23 European cities.
Picking up the phone and calling their representatives, thousands of EU citizens have taken part in the pledge2019.eu campaign. Since the campaign was launched at the end of February, citizens have called their elected representatives more than 1.200 times and spent over 72 hours on the phone with them. This unprecedented number of phone calls to politicians demonstrates just how much people care about an open, uncensored internet. It also shows that citizens are interested in engaging in European political issues, if given the chance. After previous attempts of citizens to reach out to policy makers via social media or e-mail have been discredited as originating from bots or being part of a "mob", citizens are now going the extra mile to voice their concern directly to their elected representatives.
The damage done to Europe’s democracy by claiming that citizens voicing their concerns are a manufactured campaign is immense. A whole generation of internet users learns that their legitimate fears about the consequences of the proposal on modern everyday cultural expression and media habits are being ignored and ridiculed. In reaction, the protest movement against Article 13 gave itself the slogan "We are no bots".
Upload filters are quickly becoming a major issue in the upcoming EU elections. Demonstrators are joined by a host of experts against Article 13: UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye warns against the threat for our freedom of expression online; 169 European academics specializing in intellectual property law call the proposal "misguided"; the founder of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee, together with others of internet eminence, warns about the imminent threat to the open internet; and the International Federation of Journalists calls on policy makers to rethink this unbalanced Directive.
On 23 March 2019 several rallies and demonstrations will be organized against Article 13 all around Europe. Concerned citizens still have two weeks left to visit www.pledge2019.eu and make their voices heard.