It might be time for the Internet Archive to rethink the “universal” bit from its mission statement, which declares that the flagship digital library’s goal is to provide “universal access to all knowledge.” Universal, that is- unless the visitor is located in the European Union (EU), that bastion of free speech – where hundreds of archive.org URLs are being falsely flagged as containing terrorist propaganda, and even “content.”
And that happened in the past week alone the Internet Archive – whose activism pushes for a free and open internet – has announced on its blog.
The post provides as a clear showcase of why the proposed new EU rule, the Terrorist Content Regulation, is deeply flawed, as its multitudes of critics have been warning. One of the requirements of the legislation the European Parliament could soon end up approving is the removal of suspected terrorist content within an hour.
“The one-hour requirement essentially means that we would need to take reported URLs down automatically and do our best to review them after the fact,” the Internet Archive explains.
Moreover, the 550-or-so URLs now falsely identified as promoting terrorism are among the digital library’s most visited – because they provide researchers and scholars with highly valuable information, the Internet Archive argues. Among these pages are collections containing millions of items, either posted to the service or uploaded by users, including scholarly articles and US government broadcasts and reports.
In an exasperated tone, the organization – whose portfolio of essential online archives includes the Wayback Machine – said it would be impossible to act on successive flurries of takedown notices within an hour – at least not if they hoped to produce fair and relevant decisions, i.e. – “using human review.”
“Are we to simply to take what’s reported as ‘terrorism’ at face value and risk the automatic removal of things like THE primary collection page for all books on archive.org?,” the blog post asks.
Otherwise, the Internet Archive specified that the 550+ falsely identified URLs have been the handiwork of the French Internet Referral Unit, who used the app of the EU law enforcement agency, Europol, to report them.
It’s worth noting that France is once again at the forefront of the push to advance the coming age of the “splinternet” – i.e., the internet we once knew fragmented into online fiefdoms controlled and censored by local authorities – be they China, Russia, or indeed, the EU – and/or, its most influential member-states.