What’s legal to say should be legal to type – a government regulator shouldn’t control your speech, online or off – yet the new Online Safety Bill could lead to just that, or worse.
The bloated Bill contains so many risks to free speech that it’s hard to know where to start.
For starters, the appointment of a state speech regulator – appointed and directed by government – will create a sprawling bureaucracy of speech police. The Home Office and the DCMS will direct what speech must be removed, filtered and monitored.
For another thing, the Bill’s provisions to block websites, apps, or services which refuse to cooperate with the speech regulator’s orders could put household names like Wikipedia, Reddit and Tumblr in the crosshairs.
Meanwhile, tech giants with the resources to surveil all user content would grow ever stronger. And perhaps the most shocking power, the Bill could force private messaging apps to monitor all user communications, including your private conversations with family