Following the news that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has proposed an independent watchdog that will write a “code of practice” for tech companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, and fine or block those that fail to tackle “online harms” such as terrorist propaganda and child abuse, Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate with Comparitech.com commented below.
Paul Bischoff, Privacy Advocate at Comparitech.com:
“The proposal threatens freedoms of speech and expression online and reflects the same sort of restrictions placed on social media in autocratic countries. The government cannot penalise speech that it thinks is harmful but not illegal. It’s trying to get around this by forcing tech companies to restrict speech that it could not legally prohibit on its own. I’m all for stopping child porn, sale of illegal goods, and hate crimes, but the proposal extends far beyond that. Cyberbullying, trolling, and fake news are serious problems, but where we draw the line on those things is much less clear. Threatening social media companies with hefty fines will likely cause them to over-correct and ban speech that would otherwise be permitted. We need to tackle the root of the problem, not shoot the messenger.”