Guido doesn’t want to pay extra taxes “to save the High Street”. In fact it seems quite obvious that millions of people like getting cheaper goods delivered direct to their door. Of course rivals want to handicap their competitors in their own self-interest. Perhaps politicians should side with consumers rather than producers for once?
Converting high streets into residential streets might even help with high-priced housing costs in urban areas. Which will please younger voters!
New data published by Facebook has revealed that yet again Remain is massively outspending Leave on social media, with almost twice as much money being spent by second referendum groups. Guido has listed relevant Facebook spending above £10,000…
In total this puts dedicated big Remain spending at £874,018, compared to just £493,673 for Leave. This hasn’t stopped the media attacking The Brexit Party for spending less than £20,000. Loopy Remainers have even called this ‘Dark Money’…
But it isn’t. Political parties have to declare their funding by law. The ‘dark money’ listed here is that which is spent by pressure groups like People’s Vote and Best for Britain, not political parties. This puts the Leave ‘dark money spend at £474,591, compared to a Remain ‘dark money’ spend of £778,143. More post truth politics from Remain campaigners…
Change UK – The Independent Group – Remain Alliance have been spending money micro-targeting adverts on Facebook to focus on their core electorate which at the moment is seemingly just readers of The Guardian. Quite a tight voter pool considering Guardian circulation stands at just 141,160. That’s about half as many votes as the unsuccessful and niche ‘An Independence from Europe’ party achieved in 2014…
The Government has announced that its authoritarian internet porn ban will be coming into force on 15th July. People in Britain will need to hand over their credit card details or buy a government-approved porn pass from a newsagent from £8.99 to access online porn from then. Tech-savvy Generation Z-ers will just get round it with a VPN…
Digital Minister Margot James says: “We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.” Combined with the Government’s impending assault on the wider internet and its latest genius plans to crack down on… Netflix and Amazon Video, the UK is rapidly becoming the most repressive democracy in the world to be online.
The Adam Smith Institute’s Matthew Lesh says “This scheme, that requires linking of people’s identity to their online adult viewing habits, will seriously threaten our privacy, be a massive gift to scammers, and won’t even work. Young people will just get around it, and end up being exposed to more hardcore material.” The Government’s sledgehammer approach to the internet is what you’d expect from an authoritarian regime like China or Saudi Arabia, not the liberal democracy that invented it…
.@toadmeister I do believe in free speech and always championed it when Culture Sec. What I don’t believe in is the freedom to post beheading videos and child sexual abuse online https://t.co/7uIB9rBqCt
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) April 8, 2019
The proponents of the “Online Harms White Paper“ are trying to frame it as a child protection and anti-terrorism measure. Guido is willing to accept that is the government’s intention and that it is under pressure from the newspaper industry to hit the global platforms. Almost every day News UK and Associated Newspapers titles run a shock horror story about Facebook or Twitter or one of the other social media platforms. Often it is focused on child protection – children committing suicide, children being groomed, children falling for scams, children seeing an advert for a high sugar product. Do not underestimate how much pressure this puts ministers under when there is a “something must be done” clamour.
According to the government the something that must be done is the creation of yet another quango, an online regulator. Dubbed by Toby Young “iPlod“.
Guido has no doubt as to the harms done by child sexual abuse or terrorist propaganda online, it is however already the case that these things are illegal. Introducing a new law will not change the enforcement problems, which go unaddressed in the White Paper. The best form of child protection is preventing your children having access to this material. Why does your 7 year-old child need a smart phone? Why is your daughter on Snapchat, an app originally designed to enable the sending of a quick nude picture that will selfie-destruct after a maximum of 10 seconds. New legal controls are no substitute for parental control.
The online harms that the White Paper has trouble defining include cyber-bullying and trolling, both of which it says are unacceptable. People being rude to one another online does not require a legislative response. The police have better things to do than arrest people for being rude on Twitter.
There is also the collateral damage to press freedom from a new regulator, Toby Young argues in tomorrow’s Spectator cover story that the White Paper if it became law “iPlod” would mean that any companies “that allow users to share or discover user-generated content or interact with each other online” will be “in scope” so that includes newspapers and magazines. This is arguably state regulation of the press by the back door and has no place in a free society. Sajid should be opposing it as vigorously as he opposed Labour’s attempts to set up a state press regulator, not championing it.
Last week Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced he was appointing Amal Clooney as the UK’s envoy on media freedom. Today Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has put out a government White Paper on ‘Online Harms’ which includes proposals for a regulator which will have the power to ban the websites of non-compliant companies from being accessed in the UK at all. Someone tell Amal quick!
You would think that the likes of Facebook and Twitter would be up in arms – they are not because as Dom Hallas, Executive Director of The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), says
“Everyone, including British startups, shares the goal of a safer internet – but these plans will entrench the tech giants, not punish them. The vast scope of the proposals means they cover not just social media but virtually the entire internet – from file sharing to newspaper comment sections. Those most impacted will not be the tech giants the Government claims they are targeting, but everyone else. It will benefit the largest platforms with the resources and legal might to comply – and restrict the ability of Britissh startups to compete fairly. There is a reason that Mark Zuckerberg has called for more regulation. It is in Facebook’s business interest.”
86% of UK investors surveyed by Coadec say that proposals claiming to tackle tech giants could lead to poor outcomes that inadvertently damage tech startups and hamper competition. As with the GDPR and we are likely to see with the Copyright Directive, the tech giants are in fact best placed to absorb wide-ranging regulation. There is a real risk of the global platforms getting bigger and British startups suffering.
There is also a risk that a future Corbyn govenment will use the legislation against political opponents. When you see the likes of Owen Jones being applauded for describing the Spectator, Sun, Mail, Telegraph, Express and of course Guido, as “spreading hate”, you can easily imagine the legislation being used by a Corbyn government to close down dissident media. This is a dangerous path being foolishly and short-sightedly cheered on by newspapers who think it will scupper the global platforms who are eating into their advertising revenue.
See: Coadec report with the survey data referred to can be found in full here.