Future Tense Newsletter: The EU (Isn’t) Breaking the Internet

Protesters in Berlin last week rallied against proposed upload filters that they claimed will restrict Internet freedom. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)
Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

Greetings, Future Tensers,

Over the past two years, the European Parliament has debated a directive that stands to impose dramatic changes to EU copyright law. Opponents have menacingly dubbed it a “censorship machine.” They say imposing new rules on sharing certain protected content on platforms amounts to a death knell for memes and GIFs, a killing of free speech, and a general internet doomsday. But, as intellectual property law professor Eleonora Rosati explains, this isn’t the end of the internet as we know it. Though these new copyright laws aren’t perfect, she argues that they aren’t the disaster critics are claiming they will be.

In between fretting about the future of memes, we at Future Tense have been examining other big debates about censorship on the internet. Robert Morgus and Justin Sherman examine the steps that the Kremlin is taking to further isolate the Russian internet from the rest of the world. And Tamara Evdokimova asks whether the country’s really going to follow through with a promised exercise that will (briefly) disconnect the nation from the internet on or before April 1.

Other things we read between pondering Facebook’s (accidental) most shared story of 2019:

The missing link: Elizabeth Joh writes about FamilyTreeDNA’s alarming marketing pivot: asking users to share their DNA test data in the name of solving crimes.

Beaming: An examination of humanity’s long quest to develop a “death ray.”

Unemployment benefits: Nir Eisikovits and Dan Feldman argue that there’s no such thing as “robot-proofing” professions.

Retro: Two new video games are offering up complicated nostalgia for Geocities-era internet culture.

Blanket ban: G. Owen Schaefer makes the case against a moratorium on gene editing.

Out of stock: In the fallout from NASA’s cancellation of the all-women spacewalk, Shannon Palus reports on how science gear and equipment often doesn’t fit women on Earth either.


How will climate change transform American democracy? Join Future Tense on Wednesday, April 10, in Washington for a happy hour conversation on how we can work to prevent and mitigate the worst of climate change’s effects. We’ll be joined by David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, and the Atlantic’s Vann Newkirk. RSVP or stream online here.

To the internet signoffs of yesteryear,

Anthony Nguyen

For Future Tense

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society.