(by Tom Parker | Reclaim The Net) – The UK’s Online Safety Bill, a sweeping online censorship law that’s currently making its way through Parliament, will force Big Tech platforms to censor some categories of content that the government has deemed to be “harmful” and will introduce new criminal offenses for posts that are deemed to cause “harm” without a “reasonable excuse.”
The bill gives the Secretary of State new powers to brand some content as harmful and platforms that fall under the scope of the bill’s regulations have to prevent children from encountering this content and allow adults to “increase their control over harmful content.”
Not only does the badly-written Online Safety Bill base most of its censorship requirements and these new criminal offenses on the vague term harm but it also ambiguously extends beyond the idea of physical harm to the realm of what it calls “psychological” harm.
As if the definitions are not far-reaching enough, it further demands that simply the “risk” or “potential” of harm is to be treated “in the same way as references to harm.”
The examples of harm that are listed in the bill are equally ambiguous – such as; when “individuals act in a way that results in harm to themselves or that increases the likelihood of harm to themselves.”
Another badly-worded and wide-ranging example includes; “where, as a result of the content, individuals do or say something to another individual that results in harm to that other individual or that increases the likelihood of such harm (including, but not limited to, where individuals act in such a way as a result of content that is related to that other individual’s characteristics or membership of a group).”
These unclear and far-reaching definitions not only trample over the free speech rights of the British public, but also make it impossible for platforms to determine how to comply with the bill. That’s because many posts could be considered harmful under such broad and flighty definitions, especially when combined with the postmodern idea that speech can be psychologically harmful and with increasing sections of the public that expect to be coddled.
Adding to the lack of clarity, just days before the final bill was published, the UK Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) Secretary of State Nadine Dorries, one of the main proponents of the bill, has contradicted the bill’s own wording. Read Full Article >