Lord Frost Takes Fight to Online Harms Bill, as Cost Balloons by £400 Million

Today Lord Frost joins Guido in the fight against the Online Harms Bill, launching an all-out assault on its threat to free speech. Frost’s no holds barred attack, including calling the bill “fundamentally flawed” and un-conservative, has been published alongside a new paper by the IEA, which accuses the bill of handing “unprecedented censorship powers to Secretary of State and Ofcom”. Objectively correct.

In full, Frost says:

“There is so much wrong with this Bill that it is hard to know where to start, but the report rightly highlights the fact that it will mean some speech that is legal offline will effectively be impossible online. That makes no sense and will be highly damaging to public debate, especially given the weakness of the free speech protections in the Bill.

Overall the Bill also panders to the view of the perennially offended – those who think the Government should protect them from ever encountering anything they disagree with.  A Conservative Government should not be putting this view into law.

“The best thing the Government could do would be to slim down the Bill so they can proceed rapidly with the genuinely uncontroversial aspects, and consign the rest where it belongs – the waste paper basket.”

Reading through the IEA’s paper, one thing that immediately jumps out to Guido is that the government’s own expected cost of the bill has jumped up from £2.1 billion in May 2021 to £2.5 billion today – a whole £400 million extra in a year. A figure the IEA rubbishes as a nonsense underestimation anyway:

“The impact assessment asserts that it will cost businesses, on average, £700 over ten years to read and understand the regulations, for example. However, this would not realistically cover the fees of a specialist law firm for two hours, let alone the internal staff time costs. The impact assessment specifically assumes staff will only require 30 minutes to familiarise themselves with the requirements of the 255-page legislation and 90 minutes to read, assess and change terms and conditions in response to the requirements. Legal advice is estimated to cost £39.23 per hour  an order of magnitude less than the fees of hundreds of pounds per hour typically charged by lawyers in this field.”

Turning to the inclusion of ‘legal but harmful’ speech, which platforms will have to crack down on, huge questions remain on specifics given the government has still not formally specified categories this will include. While the obvious woke labels of ‘misogynistic abuse’ will likely be included, shadow DCMS secretary Lucy Powell has already let the mask slip on the future plans of Labour ministers to massively abuse this power:

“Lucy Powell has raised concerns that the Bill as it stands would allow ‘incels’ and ‘climate deniers’ to ‘slip through the net’. She clearly envisages an extension of the notion of ‘harmful’ to cover matters of public policy debate.”

David Davis also pitches in, warning “could end up being one of the most significant accidental infringements on free speech in modern times.” Guido can’t understand why Nadine believes this won’t backfire on Conservatives like her. Big Brother Watch already proved that her “nail your balls to the floor” tweet, if posted to Facebook, results in the post being deleted by the platform. That’s before her new free speech clamp down comes into force…

Guido encourages all policymakers to read the paper – embedded below. If the government wants to get the Boris show back on the road, and reassure Tory members and MPs that this government is worth fighting for – while saving at least £2.5 billion – scrapping swathes of this big-state bill could not be a more obvious starting point…

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mdi-timer 27 June 2022 @ 11:45 27 Jun 2022 @ 11:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Live With Littlewood US Special

On tonight’s Live with Littlewood – US Special, we’ll be asking:

  • States of emergency: Which US regions handled Covid best, and why?
  • Disney Minus: Are corporations getting too “woke”?
  • Burning down the House: Will soaring inflation sink Biden’s midterm hopes?

Host and IEA Director General Mark Littlewood will be joined by:

  • Guy Bentley, Director of Consumer Freedom, Reason Foundation
  • Greg Brooks, Co-founder & President, Better Cities Project
  • Sarah Elliott, Spokeswoman, Republicans Overseas UK
  • Stephen Kent, Author & Director of Operations, Echelon Insights
  • Brooke Medina, Vice President of Communications, John Locke Foundation

Tune in from 6pm here

mdi-timer 20 April 2022 @ 17:30 20 Apr 2022 @ 17:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Think Tanks Call on Government to Properly Exploit Brexit Opportunities

Aside from partygate yesterday, the government celebrated the two year anniversary of Brexit, publishing a 100-page document of the victories so far and plans for future Brexit-enables successes. According to Steve Barclay and the Cabinet Office, the government’s achieved 76 policy changes so far that wouldn’t have been possible within the EU. Most are sound and should be shouted about, some were rather tenuous…

Wonks were quick to share their two cents on the paper and the government’s stated plans to use Brexit to improve the country’s regulations and legislation.

The CPS welcomed the white paper, particularly supporting the intention to make Britain the best regulated economy in the world; as well as ensuring regulators take into consideration competition, growth and innovation when assessing the impact of decisions; simplifying burdens for SMEs; and the freeports agenda. They did, however, criticise the abandoning of a ‘one in, two out’ pledge on new regulations…

“Fixing our regulatory system is one of the great opportunities of Brexit. But that needs to apply to all regulations, not just those inherited from Brussels.

The £1 billion target for cutting post-Brexit regulation is headline-grabbing but relatively unambitious. We need more detail on what will replace the current system of regulatory budgeting and business impact targets, which are due to expire. It is especially concerning to note that a one-in-two-out system was considered but rejected – apparently because it will be too difficult to implement alongside Net Zero.”

The IEA were more critical, saying the government “is talking a good talk on cutting red tape yet failing to walk the walk”:

“The Prime Minister is making the right noises about tackling the regulatory burden all the while introducing laws and regulations that go in the opposite direction.”

“Brexit was meant to provide us with greater freedom not even more burdensome rules derived from Whitehall rather than Brussels. From online safety to Net Zero, it’s hard to see how the government is sticking to its own principle of regulating only when “absolutely necessary”.”

UK In A Changing Europe’s Anand Menon accused the document of “missing the trade-offs”, and it appeared the report had been published “because of where the Prime Minister is”. Guido presumed it was more to do with the two year anniversary of Brexit…

mdi-timer 1 February 2022 @ 13:23 1 Feb 2022 @ 13:23 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Unrepentant Mogg Robustly Defends Christmas Party Joke

Guido didn’t expect to have one of his stories from earlier this week provide the basis to a Richard Burgon question in the Commons, though this hasn’t been a normal week. During business questions today Burgon asked whether Rees-Mogg would also resign for joking about the No. 10 Christmas Party, during a speech to the IEA think-tank’s party filmed by Guido on Monday. Rees-Mogg declined Burgon’s career advice…

Guido confesses feeling sorry for Jacob. While the clip was put out on Tuesday morning it wasn’t until ITV’s Tuesday evening Allegra Stratton leak that it went viral on the Twittersphere – it has racked up some 7 million views now. Clearly the Christmas party allegations ramped up in severity after the Stratton video, casting Rees-Mogg’s gag in a different light. As Jacob explained to Burgon, he was merely celebrating our new-found freedom to party…

*Video is still available for licencing via team@order-order.com. Our lawyers are watching.

mdi-timer 9 December 2021 @ 16:09 9 Dec 2021 @ 16:09 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Rees-Mogg’s Imperial Social Distancing Rules

Jacob Rees-Mogg was the guest of honour at the IEA’s Christmas bash last night, with a speech tailored to a home crowd. The Leader of the House entered into the Christmas panto spirit, asking the audience via call and response whether they’d like a low tax, low regulation recovery, or one of higher taxes and higher regulations. No prizes for guessing which the free marketeer crowd opted for…

The highlight of the speech was Rees-Mogg’s dig at the ongoing furore surrounding No. 10’s supposed Christmas party in 2020, telling the audience:

“I see we’re all here obeying regulations, aren’t we? And this party is not going to be investigated by the police in a year’s time. You are all very carefully socially distanced – we have moved, I am pleased to tell you, back to the Imperial system: I notice you are all two inches away from eachother which is, as I understand it, what regulations require.”

His speech was followed by a performance from Dominic Frisbee, ably duetted by Mark Littlewood, meaning Guido got to see Jacob Rees-Mogg’s reaction to his classic song “I’m going to marry Gary”…

mdi-timer 7 December 2021 @ 10:05 7 Dec 2021 @ 10:05 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Centre for Social Justice Appoints Swathe of New Directors

Yet more Tufton Street reshuffling this week as the Centre for Social Justice appoints three new directorships. Their Homelessness lead Joe Shalam, and former DExEU SpAd Gavin Rice are both being appointed Directors of Policy; Matthew Patten has been appointed as the CSJ’s political and comms director, having previously led the Mayor’s Fund for London as CEO and a short tenure as a Brexit Party MEP.

In yet more ASI news, Guido understands their current head of government affairs John Macdonald is being promoted to director of strategy, and Morgan Schondelmeier to director of operations from Monday, following the departure of Matt Kilcoyne. They’re also hiring a new head of comms. Get applying now…

mdi-timer 28 October 2021 @ 09:58 28 Oct 2021 @ 09:58 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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