Today the Government is officially announcing its plans to censor companies that host “harmful content such as violence, terrorism, cyber-bullying and child abuse” on the internet. The proposals will give the state quango Ofcom broad powers to censor the internet. By lumping in the subjective concept of “cyber-bullying” with genuine crimes, the scope for censorship is incredibly broad…
The Government does not expect legislators to read the lengthy response to its online harms consultation, so Guido has brought you the troubling highlights. Anyone in favour of free expression should be deeply worried…
The Government has stated a commitment to protect free expression, it is unclear how this will be balanced against a regulatory body that exists to create censorious guidelines.
The Adam Smith Institute’s Head of Research, Matthew Lesh, tells Guido:
“Make no mistake: free speech is under threat. The Government is proposing the most censorious online speech regime in the Western world. We must not be fooled by platitudes about freedom of expression. The inevitably woke bureaucrats in Ofcom will be deciding what sort of speech is and is not allowed across much of the internet. They will have extraordinary discretion to decide who to target and what is harmful.
This is a recipe for disaster for anyone that thinks differently to the Notting Hill set — any correct but unpopular opinions will not just come under attack from the Twitterati, but the law itself.”
The Tory’s 2019 manifesto was the only of any party to commit to “support free speech”. The Government has to change course.