EUROPE WRESTLES BIG TECH TO THE MAT

EUROPE WRESTLES BIG TECH TO THE MAT

In a vote that could change the internet as we know it, the European Parliament yesterday approved a sweeping reform of the EU's digital copyright policy. The law would make big websites liable when their users post copyrighted material without permission.


Supporters of the measure, which passed in a 348-274 vote, say it will help artists, book publishers, video producers, and record labels claw back power from Silicon Valley tech giants by ensuring they are fairly compensated for their work.

Opponents – which include tech firms and a bevy of internet activists – have run up a free speech flag, arguing the rules could force websites to install upload filters that scan for copyrighted material, making it harder for people to post and share stuff online.

We're interested in the fracas here at Signal because it's a great example of how Europe is pulling out all the stops in order to become the world's first tech-regulatory superpower.

Caught between freewheeling Silicon Valley's surveillance capitalism and techno-authoritarian China – and largely without tech behemoths of its own -- the 28-member economic giant is trying to shape the future of technology through law.

The EU's approach aims to give individual citizens, rather than companies, control over their personal data. It's also trying to bust up what it sees as unfair monopolies in the industry. And Brussels isn't shy about taking that fight directly to Silicon Valley – just last week the EU slapped a $1.7 billion judgment on Google for abusing its dominant position in the online ad market – the latest in a series of big fines that Europe's competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has levied on Big Tech.

With copyright reform now headed to member states for final approval, and enforcement of data protection rules picking up, other big ideas knocking around Europe include regulating AI and perhaps even forcing the world's most powerful digital companies to share some of their data with competitors.

The upshot: Europe's 430 million or so relatively affluent internet users are a big draw for tech firms, but if regulation gets too strict, they could leave altogether, leaving the Old World behind in tech innovation. The tech sector's response to this week's copyright reforms will be an important bellwether for which way things start to go.

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Political division, disinformation and, frankly, stupidity are costing lives. It is not authoritarian to mandate vaccines in America. In fact, there is historical precedent. Making vaccine uptake a requirement will save tens of thousands of lives and maybe many more than that. There really aren't two sides to this argument, there is just the science.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Hope you're having a good week. I wanted to kick it off by talking about vaccines. We all know the recent spike in cases and even hospitalizations that we have experienced in this country over the past couple of weeks. It looks like that's going to continue. It is overwhelmingly because of Delta variant. The hospitalizations and deaths are overwhelmingly because too many people are un-vaccinated.

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Dr Anthony Fauci says the US is again "going in the wrong direction" as COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across America. Over the past two weeks, hospitalizations — an apt indicator of serious illness from COVID — have spiked in 45 out of 50 states as a result of the contagious delta variant and rejection of vaccines, which are leading many US states to now have a vaccine surplus. We take a look at the 10 states where hospitalization rates have increased the most in recent weeks, and their corresponding vaccination rates — and unused vaccine rates.

Iraqi PM's face-to-face with Biden: Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq's prime minister, met with President Biden at the White House Monday to discuss the future of US troops in Iraq. The US still has about 2,500 troops stationed in Iraq to engage in "counterterrorism" operations and train Iraqi forces. In an interview published this week, al-Kadhimi called for the withdrawal of all US combat troops, because, he said, Iraqi forces have proven capable of fighting ISIS militants on their own. (Just last week, some 30 Iraqis were killed when ISIS militants attacked a busy Baghdad market.) Al-Kadhimi still wants non-combat US troops to stay on in a training capacity. He became PM in 2020 as a consensus candidate after nationwide protests over corruption and joblessness forced the resignation of the unpopular previous government. At least 500 protesters were killed during a crackdown by Iraqi security forces, fueling demands for fresh elections, which are set to take place this October. The green PM has a tough job: he has to juggle relations with the Biden administration, which just pledged $155 million in aid to Iraq, and ties with Tehran, an influential player in Iraqi politics. (Iraq relies on Iran for energy imports, and Iran-backed militias inside Iraq are a force to be reckoned with.) Local sentiment has soured on the US presence as Iraqis resent being caught in the middle of US-Iran fights inside Iraqi territory.

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7,100: As a third COVID wave ravages Myanmar, the death toll has now risen above 7,100, a gross undercount because that total includes only those who died in hospitals. Myanmar, which has one of the weakest healthcare systems in Asia, is also dealing with a vaccine hesitancy problem: people are rejecting shots because they see vaccination as validation of the military, which overthrew the democratically elected government earlier this year.

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Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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"We've been dealing with pandemics from the earliest recorded history. Thucydides writes about a pandemic in the history of the Peloponnesian War. So the last thing 2020 was, was unprecedented," Stanford historian Niall Ferguson told Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. Ferguson, whose new book, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe," believes that the world should have been better prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic based on the numerous health crises of the 20th century, from the 1918 Spanish flu to influenza and HIV/AIDS. He provides perspective on how the COVID crisis stacks up compared to other pandemics throughout history.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

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