Regulation of technology is fascinating stuff that often generates a huge amount of controversy.

Take the European Union's overhaul of copyright legislation to make it more suitable for a digital reality, but which ended up in a drawn-out wrangle over two internet-related provisions.

Last year, there was much uproar over Article 13 of the draft copyright directive that mandated platforms like YouTube and Facebook have to add content recognition technology.


That technology would scan users' uploads for copyrighted material, much like Google's ContentID does on YouTube, and removes access to it except it would apply for the whole of the EU.

On top of that, there's Article 11 with a "link tax" levied on, for instance, Google News so that publishers get paid for their content that's being shared.

Protecting copyrighted material and ensuring publishers that generate content make money, rather than those companies who merely direct users to it, is fair enough.

The proposed implementation of the above in the EU copyright directive — and there was an amendment 76 inserted by mistake that banned videoing sports events — horrified millions of people who rose to protest against technology that could be used as a mass censorship tool and which would cost smaller providers a fortune.

Last year, the original copyright directive was voted down, then an amended version approved, with Articles 11 and 13 in it.

Last week, the copyright directive was supposed to make it through the European Council and then be kicked off to the European Parliament.

But no. Eleven member countries voted against it, and it's back to drafting and trying to think up a palatable compromise for the politicians.

No wonder that rights holders are losing interest in the mess and thinking they're better off without the controversial articles in the copyright directive.


It's worth taking the copyright directive seriously though.

One new piece of legislation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that aims to protect the privacy of EU citizens and safeguard their digital information is being put to test currently.

Not content with taking on Facebook and winning against the social media giant last year, Austrian law student and privacy pugilist Max Schrems has filed complaints against Amazon, Apple, Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, SoundCloud, Filmmit and DAZN.

Schrems' None of Your Business contacted the eight companies with requests under GDPR's Article 15 to have complete access to raw data that companies hold on users.

None of the eight fully complied.

This could cost them dearly if GDPR's €20 million ($33.8m), or four per cent of annual worldwide turnover, fines kick in. NOYB tallied up the theoretical maximum of the fines to €18.8 billion ($31.8b).

We'll see if Schrems and NOYB succeed with their complaints but it was possibly a huge mistake by SoundCloud and DAZN to ignore the access to data requests.

What's more, NOYB intends to make it really easy for users to exercise their right to file data access requests and that's guaranteed to leave internet data-slurping companies awake at night.