UK online safety bill could “push more people into the dark web”

New British critic Online safety bill They say they are afraid that it could erode freedom of speech and drive more people to look for alternatives on the dark web.

Last week, a bill given a second undisputed reading by British MPs forced Google, Twitter, Meta (formerly Facebook) and others to comply with Ofcom’s code of conduct and was “legal but harmful.” content.

Porn websites must use age verification technology to prevent people under the age of 18 from accessing their site, and social media platforms are obliged not to allow misleading advertising.

Google is expected to block non-compliant websites.

Digital secretary Nadin Dolly’s, April 28, said: “We are entering a new chapter where technology companies are fully responsible for the content of their platforms. Protect people from toxic, racist and abusive abuse, and from online bullying and other harmful behavior. Keeping our own promise to users to protect their children. Make sure that the Internet is a place where the rights of those who participate in society and lively discussions are protected. “

She was talking at the launch Declaration for the future of the InternetAlong with representatives from the US Government and more than 50 other countries.

Nadin Dolly's
Nadindries speaks in this screen grab taken from the video at the House of Commons in London on April 3, 2019. (Reuters TV via Reuters)

Will Geddes, a security expert and co-author of Parent Alert: How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online, said the online safety bill was intentional but could have unintended consequences. ..

He said some people who are willing to comply with the tightly regulated Internet will use Tor and other similar software to access the dark web.

Guedes told the Epoch Times: The dark web, or gray web, is not controlled by anyone. If you want to get Britney’s new album, you may find a site that you can download for free, but it can infect your computer with Trojan horses, ransomware, and other malware. “

The dark web is part of the worldwide web and requires a special browser to access it. The most popular browser is Tor (from the acronym of the original name The Onion Router), but other search engines include Freenet, I2P, Not Evil, and Haystack.

Dark Web’Bypass Censorship’

Cybersecurity and intelligence expert Pierluigi Paganini, CEO of Cybhorus, told The Epoch Times: Although crowded with cybercriminal organizations due to pseudo-anonymity, the darknet is an essential ecosystem to avoid censorship and ensure freedom of speech. Think of most of today’s illegal activities as using instant messaging platforms like Telegram. However, people are unaware of this and ignore the importance of such types of apps to the cybercrime ecosystem. “

Guedes said the law puts Google at risk of becoming a search engine.

He states: “Journalist and security professionals look up terrorist content on the Internet for good reason, but a 15-year-old boy or girl may see it out of curiosity. Kids look for this content. In fact. Is more likely to be found in apps, not in big social media platforms. “

“After all, it’s a parenting issue, not an unenforceable Draconia rule,” Geddes added.

Axel Springer Awards Red Carpet in Berlin
After arriving on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Awards in Berlin, Germany on December 1, 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who buys Twitter for $ 44 billion, frowns. (Hannibal Hanshke / Reuters)

Elon Musk, who announced the $ 44 billion acquisition of Twitter this week, said: If people want to reduce their freedom of speech, they will ask the government to pass a law to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is against the will of the people. “

Conservative Damian Collins, chair of the Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill, urged Mask to “clean up” Twitter, and if he wanted to make Twitter a “digital town square,” he would “disinformation and division.” A bot account to spread. “

Guedes said Twitter has become a “toxic environment,” but predicted that Elon Musk would find a way to get rid of vandalism and bots without affecting free speech.

He added: “What Elon Musk will do next on Twitter will be really interesting. Where does freedom of speech end and where does abuse begin?”

MP says the face of free speech “slow death”

April 19, Conservative Rep. Steve Baker Opinion piece The Times, co-author with Professor Paul Dolan of the London School of Economics, criticized the online safety bill for its chilling effect on free speech.

They write: “As social media platforms become legally required to remove content, more and more types of content will almost certainly begin to be removed. Under the threat of penalties, social media companies are” legal but harmful. ” You do not run the risk of allowing content that may approach you to remain on the platform. Freedom of speech and debate on the Internet is a slow and painful death. “

Paganini said: “The online security bill aims to curb illegal and harmful online content through a new regulatory framework, but it can have a dramatic impact on free speech and online privacy.”

“Removing legal but potentially harmful speeches from social media platforms requires extraordinary efforts by IT giants. The concept of’harmful’is questionable and well open to moderators’ interpretation. Companies operating social media platforms are under pressure and are obliged to adopt automated systems that scan content in real time and block potentially “harmful” content, “Paganini said.

He said big tech companies would be tempted to use algorithms to block content that could violate the new law. There is sex. “

Chris Summers


Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist with a particular interest in crime, police and law, covering stories from a wide range of countries.