Why is the government pushing unprecedented online censorship? – Telegraph.co.uk

Our governments proposals describe disinformation as harmful, and will make content which has been disputed by reputable fact-checking services less visible to users, forcing companies to promote authoritative news sources. The Chinese Government has pushed online influencers to counter disinformation, holding education sessions like the Responsibility Forum for Online Personalities; our government urges Adult [internet] users [to] act in an acceptable manner, which contradicts its claim that the regulator will not be responsible for policing truth and accuracy online.

In support of the plans, the government quotes studies that lack proper evidence. One claims to have uncovered organised social media manipulation campaigns in 48 countries. But its claims about the UK were generally unfalsifiable, and implied that North Koreans, allowed virtually no internet access, were less vulnerable to online manipulation.

Britons faced pro-government or party messages [and] attacks on the opposition, without evidence or explanation why pro-government or party messages and attacks on the opposition do not simply mean robust democratic debate. Unlike the UK, the people of Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe did not suffer trolling or harassment online. Such is the evidence the government has compiled to justify interventions against disinformation.

Many voters who backed the government to get Brexit done will also be surprised to see it copying the EUs new digital censorship. The EUs 2018 Code of Practice on Disinformation also requires fact checkers to identify authoritative content. Some online disinformation, like various conspiracy theories, is clearly harmful, but as Judge Louis Brandeis said: If there be time to expose through discussion, the falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.

Sadly, the governments plans will even fail in their aim of making the UK the best place to start an online business. Given the resources firms will need to comply with the new regulations, the government will simply entrench the US tech giants monopoly. The authors of the plans believe they will create more tolerance and help rid the internet of hate, but in reality will achieve the opposite, giving conspiracy theorists and hate-merchants the glamour of being banned by the state.

Later this year, the Free Speech Union will propose the outline of simplified legislation to deal with genuine harms, without censoring our freedom of speech. But the Governments plans are an authoritarian threat to our freedom of speech. They would prove a nasty surprise to most internet users and should never be put into effect.

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Why is the government pushing unprecedented online censorship? - Telegraph.co.uk

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