EU negotiators have struck a deal over copyright reform that is an ‘attack on openness’, the new chief executive of Open Knowledge International has warned. Catherine Stihler, a former MEP and vice-chair of the European Parliament’s consumer protection committee, said the changes will restrict internet freedoms for millions of users.

The agreement will require platforms such as Youtube, Twitter or Google News to take down user-generated content that could breach intellectual property and install filters to prevent people from uploading copyrighted material. That means memes, GIFs and music remixes may be taken down because the copyright does not belong to the uploader. It could also restrict the sharing of vital research and facts, allowing ‘fake news’ to spread.

The proposed changes will now head to the European Parliament for a vote among all MEPs in March or April.

Open Knowledge International is a non-profit organisation which fights for open data and helps groups access and use data to address social problems. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of Open Knowledge International, said:

“This deeply disappointing deal is an attack on openness. The copyright crackdown will lead to a chilling effect on freedom of speech across the EU. We want people to be empowered to build, share and reuse their own data and content freely and openly, and this move goes against that principle.

It does not enhance citizens’ rights, and could lead to Europe becoming a more closed society – restricting how we share research that could lead to medical breakthroughs or how we share facts to combat the spread of ‘fake news’.

I urge MEPs to vote down this proposal and fight for a future where our world is more open.”

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