Europe is considering new regulations that threaten to undermine the internet as we know it.

The European Commission is considering critical regulatory changes that would define the roles and responsibilities of service providers in the digital world. We're deeply concerned that ill-considered regulation could undermine online innovation, threaten privacy, stifle competition and limit freedom of speech.

Our open letter to the EU Commission has already been signed by innovation leaders including Medium, Reddit, Patreon, Automattic (Wordpress), Cloudflare, Shapeways, Union Square Ventures, Topix, Beacon, Yelp, Homebrew and DuckDuckGo.

Read and Sign our Open Letter

An Open Letter From The Innovation Community:

To the EU Commission:

We, the undersigned, are entrepreneurs, innovators and technologists who have built many of today's leading internet services — which have been embraced around the globe. These services have helped grow the European economy, providing useful offerings to Europeans, while also serving as a growth platform for many small businesses.

The Digital Single Market strategy gives startups many reasons to hope, as it aims to lower regulatory barriers within the EU; which currently make cross border trade difficult, particularly for new players. However, the strategy also gives startups cause for concern as there is a risk it may be misdirected to regulate the Internet in harmful ways.

We urge caution before deviating from a legal framework that has proven successful in encouraging tremendous innovation, massive consumer value and ongoing competition. Specifically, our concern is fourfold:

  • Increasing regulatory burdens on internet platforms will lead to decreased competition and innovation in the internet community.

    The largest companies have the resources and staff to deal with increased regulations and burdens. Startups do not. While some have suggested that any regulations are being designed to restrict the big American internet platforms, please recognize that while they have the resources to deal with such regulation, many of the undersigned do not. Thus, we and many future startups would be unable to enter these markets and compete. The end result may be locking in markets as they are today with the current big players. This would seem to go against the stated goals of the Digital Single Market effort.
  • Putting additional liability on internet platforms, such as a “duty of care” for actions of their users, will decrease privacy protections for millions of people.

    While there are legitimate concerns about how people make use of internet platforms, moving the blame from those individuals to the platforms themselves will only serve to increase monitoring and data collection by those platforms in an effort to avoid liability. At a time when there is tremendous concern for privacy, such policies may harm those goals. We recognize and respect existing laws for protecting privacy within the EU, but we worry that new liability rules will serve to undermine those very principles.
  • Greater liability for online platforms over content created by their users will lead to greater censorship and diminished free expression.

    Historically, whenever there have been legal mechanisms for taking down content, they have been regularly abused to take down perfectly legal content with potentially harmful results. While there are legitimate concerns about illegal or infringing content, the historical risk to free expression by those abusing takedown procedures for all sorts of other content needs to be considered. Related to this, it is not at all obvious to third parties when content is illegal, and asking corporations to be the arbiter of the appropriateness of certain content will almost certainly lead to unfortunate results.
  • Regulating online platforms with additional requirements and requiring government approval will greatly diminish innovation in Europe.

    Online innovation happens rapidly, and it benefits from an environment where the barriers between having an idea and making it a reality are minimized. Complex regulations and increased threats of liability mire every new service in bureaucratic obstacles before it can get off the ground, and create dangerous and discouraging uncertainty for new ideas that don't fit an existing mold.

Given those four points above, we are concerned that the Digital Single Market strategy may result in unintended consequences in conflict with its beneficial objectives. That is, greater regulation will likely lead to less competition, less innovation, less privacy and less free expression.

We urge the Commission to recognize the rapidly changing nature of startup ecosystems and to move with extreme caution before regulating this constantly evolving marketplace in a way that may lock in certain players, possibly undermining the key objectives of this effort.

Sign The Letter


  • Automattic (Wordpress)
  • Beacon
  • Cloudflare
  • Copia
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Homebrew
  • IndieGoGo
  • Medium
  • Patreon
  • Reddit
  • Shapeways
  • Topix
  • Union Square Ventures
  • Yelp

Sign the Open Letter and Help Send A Message