If you woke up with a message on your television to “call your MEPs to stop Article 13” you weren’t alone.
An unnamed protester, who goes by the handle Cyber Anakin, has leveraged unprotected and exposed television set-top boxes to warn Europeans about an impending law change, which critics say could mandate user-uploaded content filtering as part of a copyright reform effort.
The so-called Article 13 provision, otherwise known as the Copyright Directive, “takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users,” said an open letter signed by 70 experts, who criticized the move.
Chief among the concerns is that the provision will effectively ban linking to news articles without prior permission, and sift through user posts and submissions in an effort to censor illegal content.
But the protester took matters into his own hands. He began leaving messages on users’ television screens using a web-based feature on the exposed set-top boxes.
“Dear EU citizens, call your [parliamentarian] to stop Article 13 or you’ll lose the right to share and enjoy memes that you’ve taken for granted,” said the message he left in English — and in other languages.
There are about 3,100 set-top boxes that aren’t protected with a password, though he only temporarily defaced the screens of a few television sets.
He also opened two accounts referenced on the a European Court of Justice web page that had been empty, which he used to tweet opposition to Article 13. He previously made a name for himself for opening another vacant account, linked to from a North Korea-run web page.
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“Article 13 threatens the internet ecosystem because it will mandate automated filtering systems to be installed everywhere in the internet,” he said in a message. He said the filter will “let things which shouldn’t to pass through and block those that should be allowed.”
He warned more oppressive nations could follow the Europeans’ example.
Members of the European Parliament are set to vote next week on whether to pass the Copyright Directive, introduced by German lawmaker Axel Voss, who has been heavily criticized for the motion.
“The internet will become a boring, gloomy place if Axel Voss has his way,” said the vigilante.