Government’s New Internet Regulator Endangers Free Speech

The Online Harms White Paper was published in April 2019 ahead of a Bill coming before Parliament next year. The aim is to make the UK “the safest place in the world to go online”, yet a report from the Free Speech Union written by Dr Radomir Tylecote, says the proposals will seriously infringe free speech. Some of the harms the White Paper identifies are real, including distributing images of child abuse and online activities by terrorists. These can be dealt with by current legislation with more resources for law enforcement.

Some of the “harms” the White Paper describes are vague and subjective, such as “unacceptable content” and “disinformation”. These are to be determined by a future regulator and will likely lead to sweeping censorship. Online Harms does not even properly define “harm”, so the definition risks being outsourced to the usual activists and lobby groups. A proposed new regulator will even have the power to censor lawful content: the government says new regulation should prohibit material “that may directly or indirectly cause harm” even if “not necessarily illegal”. Inevitably the regulator will be captured by the forces of wokery, so we can look forward to the likes of Guido and JK Rowling being censored for inappropriately discussing gender, Covid, or climate issues…

The FSU report says the proposals are partly inspired by Germany’s 2017 “NetzDG” internet law, but Human Rights Watch has called for Germany to scrap the law, saying it “turns internet companies into censors”. President Lukashenko of Belarus, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party and Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuelan government have cited NetzDG as the model for their online laws. As the FSU report says:

Our government’s plans also bear a worrying similarity to Beijing’s internet censorship policies. Beijing censors “rumours” because they cause “social harms”. Our government’s 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”. This contradicts our government’s claim that “the regulator will not be responsible for policing truth and accuracy online”.

The dark net will thrive under state enforced censorship and conspiracy theorists will enjoy the cachet of being “banned by the state”. Do we really want to go down this route?

Download the FSU report.

mdi-timer 17 September 2020 @ 11:14 17 Sep 2020 @ 11:14 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Carswell’s New Think Tank to Take on Bad Government

Wonk world expanded a little yesterday as Douglas Carswell along with IEA fellow and top wonk Radomir Tylecote launched the Good Governance Project, a research body that has been quietly rumbling away since the end of last year. The project aims to take on not only big government but bad government – and propose real solutions in order to make things run better…

The Brexit process showed more than ever that the state is not really fit for purpose and is certainly not serving democracy as well as it would. The GGP will conduct research into the areas that gunged up the Brexit process, as well as Britain’s alphabet soup of quangos, financial black hole departments, a uniquely centralised Whitehall, and a civil service that looks geared towards blocking external talent. In short, it’s mission statement is to reform “The Blob”…

mdi-timer 2 April 2020 @ 16:00 2 Apr 2020 @ 16:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Innovative Housing Crisis Solution

Jacob Rees-Mogg has co-authored a paper for the Institute of Economic Affairs along with top wonk Radomir Tylecote on how to use freedom-based solutions to tackle the housing crisis. The package of solutions include cutting stamp duty, permitted development rights for individual streets, and importantly selectively re-classifying some ‘green belt’ designated land that achieves none of its official purposes. Harder for Tory grassroots to dismiss this when even Jacob Rees-Mogg is saying nimbyism has gone too far…

‘Green belt’ land includes large areas of scrubland and even brownfield sites. Building on just 3.9% of London’s green belt near railway stations would provide one million well connected new homes – replacing parts of the green belt that are not green or pleasant at all. This is a policy that would help fix one of the biggest problems facing Britain today, and it wouldn’t cost a thing…

mdi-timer 22 July 2019 @ 15:34 22 Jul 2019 @ 15:34 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
In Full: Alternative Brexit Plan

Brexiteers have released their much-vaunted alternative Brexit plan this morning. Dubbed “Plan A+”, the plan attempts to set out a viable alternative to Chequers and respond to the common critiques of a Canada+ model.

The paper is written by Shanker Singham and Radomir Tylecote of the IEA and will be launched later this morning by a panel including David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg. Read for yourself here…

mdi-timer 24 September 2018 @ 09:28 24 Sep 2018 @ 09:28 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Shanker Shocker as Legatum’s Brexit Team Transfers to IEA

Shanker Singham has resigned from the Legatum Institute as Director of Economic Policy and is taking his three-strong team with him from Mayfair to Westminster to join the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). This is the wonk-land equivalent of Manchester City signing Manchester United’s top strikers…

Guido sources say Shanker resigned on Wednesday and the board of the IEA agreed to take him and his team pretty swiftly. The IEA is creating a new International Trade and Competition Unit for Shanker’s team, bringing with him lawyer Victoria Hewson; economist Catherine McBride; and research analyst Dr Radomir Tylecote. The three – who have a wealth of experience from the legal, technology, business and think tank worlds – will take up their roles later this month. Shanker’s team are widely recognised as the top Brexit wonks outside government.

The IEA’s Mark Littlewood tells Guido:

“I have huge admiration for the work Shanker and his team have done at the Legatum Institute. Under Philippa Stroud’s leadership, Legatum have gone from strength to strength, becoming thought leaders in crucial policy areas of which trade is only one. I look forward to continuing our strong relationship with them, and to Shanker and his team continuing their work at the IEA.”

Shanker Singham says: “We look forward to being a resource to all who need us in the trade, competition and regulatory policy space.” It is fair to say that the philanthropists who back Legatum were extremely uncomfortable with the critical political attention that the polarising Brexit work was bringing them and that this was distracting from their greater philanthropic endeavours on other issues.  At the IEA Shanker will be at liberty to engage with the Westminster debate and key players more directly…

mdi-timer 9 March 2018 @ 11:24 9 Mar 2018 @ 11:24 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments