If you are free to speak your mind in public, then why would that right cease to exist online? That’s the question confounding Britons this week after harsh new internet censorship laws have taken effect.
This may very well be the issue of the decade, globally, as the world wide web turns 30-something and the thought police invade cyberspace in earnest.
In America, the issue stems from the realm of private corporations who have decided what, where, and when certain opinions can be shared online. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all been besieged by these issues, first in response to the use of their platforms by ISIS militants and terrorist recruiters, and then in hopes of swaying the 2018 midterm elections. The megaliths of digital realm have chosen to adhere to the personal beliefs of their leadership as opposed to the US Constitution, and their reckoning may soon be in the offing.
In Europe, however, the issue is a bit different. EU nations, including Britain, (currently), have been tackling the issue of radical ideas and ideologies at the governmental level – causing more than a few freedom enthusiasts to cry “fascism”.
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The UK government is taking a hard line when it comes to online safety, moving to establish what it says is the world’s first independent regulator to keep social media companies in check.
Companies that fail to live up to requirements will face huge fines, and senior directors who are proven to have been negligent will be held personally liable. They may also find access to their sites blocked.
The new measures, designed to Online Harms, published Monday in the UK., were announced jointly by the Home Office and Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The introduction of the regulator is the central recommendation of a highly anticipated government white paper, titled
Obviously, there are several concerns.
“This is an unprecedented attack on freedom of speech that will see internet giants monitoring the communications of billions and censoring lawful speech,” Big Brother Watch said in a tweet.
Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy for Index on Censorship, said in a statement she’s concerned that “protecting freedom of expression is less important than the government wanting to be seen as ‘doing something’ in response to public pressure.”
Without free speech, we are but pawns in the games of those who control our thoughts and words. We must never forget this.
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