Internet regulations proposed in the UK censor conversations of the general public: Report


Another Freedom of Speech Watchdog condemned the UK government’s proposed law to tackle online abuse and warned that it would effectively ban common online conversations that remain legal on the streets.

Report by Big Brother Watch published on September 5 (pdf) States that online freedom of speech has already diminished in the name of preventing harm, and the proposed online security bill will exacerbate it.

NS Draft bill It aims to protect adults and children from illegal and legitimate “harm” online, and both critics and supporters explain it is the most ambitious attempt to regulate the Internet in the free world. It has been.

It will empower broadcast regulator Ofcom to fine and even thwart tech companies for violating the rules.

“How social media companies have adopted increasingly stringent speech standards in recent years,” said Mark Johnson, Legal and Policy Officer at Big Brother Watch, in a statement on the issuance of the report. “. “The online security bill only exacerbates this and poses a greater threat to UK freedom of speech than any other law of living memory.”

“The bill does nothing at all to help police deal with real crimes online, but rather focuses the lens on the conversation of the general public,” he added. “These new rules leave us with two layers of speech that are not allowed online for speech that is allowed on the street.”

Similar concerns have been raised by other think tanks, including: Economic Research Institute, Index on censorship, Open Rights Group, NS Adam Smith Institute, And that Freedom of speech..

The government argues that the new law provides ample protection for freedom of speech and will not crack down on legal content posted by adults.

“There is no apology for protecting children.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Media, Culture and Sports told The Epoch Times:

“It’s not entirely true to claim that this threatens freedom of speech. In fact, our new law strengthens freedom of speech and the protection of journalistic content, and tech companies are arbitrary about legitimate content. The ministers have made it clear that they do not allow this to be a means of censorship. “

However, despite such guarantees, many free speech organizations are concerned about the categories of legal but “harmful” content.

The Victoria Hughson Institute for Economic Research, a free market think tank, wrote a report on the bill in May.

She said the definition of “harmful content” would be embodied by the Minister and Ofcom.

“This is where we expect false or disinformation to be called harmful.” She talked to NTD earlier..

This is likely to be the case for what is considered public health information, she said. “Therefore, as we have experienced in the past year or so, claiming disinformation often turns out to be a useful challenge to fair comment or general wisdom, but there is no harm. I can insist. “

The Big Brother Watch report also criticized the government’s current disinformation cell, which is part of the National Cyber ​​Security Center’s efforts to address false information online.

According to the Big Brother Watch, task groups scrutinize social media platforms and flag platform concerns.

“The relationship between the government and the platform in this back room is only part of what we can see in the future,” Johnson said. Another statement.. “The government-sponsored online security bill is the final culmination of this convergence of power, corporate contractual terms and domestic law are synonymous, and platform power is united by state legitimacy.”

Simon Veazey

Simon Veazey

Freelance reporter

Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has been reporting on the Epoch Times since 2006 on a variety of beats, from detailed coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing of the latest news.