Damian Collins Calls For End to Internet Freedom

Damian Collins’ committee has this morning published its report into “Disinformation and ‘fake news’” and off the bat it is a full-on onslaught of new heavy-handed regulations that could herald the end of a free and open internet.

The report recommends that tech companies cease to be seen as platforms, and shift to being seen much more as publishers, establishing a new Government written “Code of Ethics” overseen by yet another new quango given “statutory powers to monitor relevant tech companies”:

“tech companies assume legal liability for content identified as harmful after it has been posted by users”

Calling to end platform neutral status for internet companies would end social media as we know it. If Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or any other user-centred host of content became classified as publishers, why would any company allow anything to be posted without central approval first? Doing anything else would leave that company legally liable for whatever its users posted on the site…

Publisher status would necessitate pre-approval by legal teams for everything that was posted, so that companies would avoid getting sued. A precautionary principle would have to be adopted – we would end up with a small group of out-of-touch politicians and technocrats deciding what is acceptable to say on the internet. In reality this would lead to a mass exodus of global companies from the UK…

The UK is home to more tech companies than anywhere else in Europe. There is a tech boom of new startups and more ‘tech unicorn’ billion dollar valued companies than anywhere else in Europe. Collins’ hugely misguided plans would destroy all of that if they were ever implemented…

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Quote of the Day

Dr Alexander Kogan, the app developer who originally harvested the Facebook data, said…

“I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic and made claims this is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But I think the reality is it’s not that. If you sit down and you really work through the statistics and you think what does a correlation of point three means, those claims quickly fall apart. And that’s something any person with a statistical background can go and do.”


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