There's still the old problem
Nice idea outlawing support for people hawking harmful content, but who defines "harmful"?
Three things on the morning news reliably ruin breakfast for socially aware technogeeks. A government deliberately mistaking technology for magic, thereby shifting responsibility. Politicians using a national tragedy to push a flawed agenda past scrutiny. Organisations using the above to turn a buck. Last week, many a …
We already have laws that define harmful, in terms of things like hate speech. Applying those would would be a good starting point. Death and rape threats are also illegal. Applying those would still allow you to say that your local elected representative is useless and not doing their job. It wouldn't allow you say that they should be executed as a result. Seems fair to me.
What seems fair to us (particularly as there will be very few, if any, readers here who are not technically minded) will no doubt seem overly liberal to the "moral majority" though. With the previous heavy handed use of prevention of terrorism legislation for almost anything other than its intended purpose, it is a virtual certainty that laws intended to curb hate speech will not be fit for purpose and will be used for purposes other than intended.
It's very hard for me to feel positive about any sort of legislation like this when DCMS is under the purview of Nadine Dorries, who thought it was OK to leave her elected post to appear on I'm a Celebrity, and that is far from her only red flag.
I agree, sadly the cynic in me thinks that any sensible bill will have all the sense slapped out of it before it gets to a vote, or will be rejected out of hand. After all our politicians can't currently be trusted to pass a bill that pretty much says nothing other than discharging raw sewage in to the water is a bad thing.
It usually works like this:
They want to do X. Then they do brainstorming, which means would be the most palatable to the public that would make a great carrier for X?
They do polling e.g. would you accept X if it meant Y (carrier) would be curbed / amplified and then write strategy based on the one that got the greatest acceptance.
In this case hate speech fear seems to be a natural carrier for restricting the freedom of speech. People can relate to that and many probably experienced it and would like the identify of people who done it to be known. Of course the possible unintended consequences are not mentioned, because that would make the subject questioning whether it actually makes sense to do it.
People are not aware that in most instances it is very easy for authorities to find out who made an abusive tweet or comments. The problem is the lack of will to do anything - if you report harassment, the most likely answer you'll get "it is a civil matter" regardless whether it actually is.
I can't see how this bill would change this apathy in any way.
"Death and rape threats are also illegal."
As is "threatening behaviour" in general, it often appears on the charge sheet. The courts are well experienced in dealing with it. Putting the decision in the hands of a regulator who isn't might be problematic.
We've been through the loop of trying to apply the existing law to threats made online in the past - e.g. the bomb threat against Robin Hood Airport. That didn't work out well. Have we learned anything since then? Do such threats, made in the heat of of the moment but not really meant, have cumulative effects on others who hear them and incline them to violence? If not, can we distinguish those which do or which are meant? If we can make a better judgement of what's serious and what isn't can we just apply existing law through existing means?
The Robin Hood Airport threat case wasn't really existing laws applied to online, it was a law re-legislated several times (most recently in Communications Act 2003) for the internet era and it differs dramatically from both the offline 'threatening behaviour' offence and the similar Malicious Communications Act offence (which applies to letter sending and, redundantly, electronic communications) in that the 2003 law doesn't require *intent*.
So you can send a joke, mean it as a joke and that be obvious and enjoyed by the joke-loving majority of people, but if the person(s) receiving it are bone-headed enough to find it 'grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character', or worse, malicious enough to claim they do even though they don't and they can find a few ideologically extreme fun-hating advocacy groups (there're always some of those) to say the kind of thing you sent really shouldn't ever be sent by anyone, then you can be locked up. Unless your electronic communication involves it being broadcast by regulated TV companies because, for now anyway, they're trusted to police their own content in a way no internet media is.
This is what needs changing. People who intend to cause harm by their online speech should be dealt with in court and the relatively high bar of proving that intent should be the obstacle that prevents the rest of us having our speech chilled by the worry that someone somewhere on the big wide internet might misunderstand us, intentionally or not.
"... if the person(s) receiving it are bone-headed enough to find it 'grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character', or worse, malicious enough to claim they do even though they don't..."
Here is one of the big problems - the focus has moved from a semi-objective "man on the Clapham omnibus" to a subjective "ooh, that upset me". We need to return to what the average person would find "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character", and ditch the Mary Whitehouse test currently in place.
Here is one of the big problems - the focus has moved from a semi-objective "man on the Clapham omnibus" to a subjective "ooh, that upset me".
Actually I believe it has all to often moved another step to "ohh, that may have upset someone else". That is where the mission-creep needs to be watched. Allowing people to take offence by proxy can potentially result in a stick to beat all and sundry.
>We need to return to what the average person would find "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character"
The problem with there is that there is no actual "average person". Moral views can be very diverse. No one person could encompass all those differing views, without being some kind of split personality. In Birmingham a while back, there was a spate of advertising posters featuring scantily clad women being defaced. Presumably, somebody found the posters offensive. I certainly did not. I found the poster featuring a stark naked but tastefully posed Sophie Dahl very entertaining.
"So you can send a joke, mean it as a joke and that be obvious and enjoyed by the joke-loving majority of people, but if the person(s) receiving it are bone-headed enough to find it 'grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character', or worse, malicious enough to claim they do even though they don't and they can find a few ideologically extreme fun-hating advocacy groups (there're always some of those) to say the kind of thing you sent really shouldn't ever be sent by anyone, then you can be locked up."
This could be relatively easily manipulated to make conservative party speeches the subject of hate crime ciomplaints
The Robin Hood Airport case was a particularly difficult one. Whether one takes a bomb threat seriously is heavily conditioned by factors such as whether you have public safety responsibilities or whether you have experience of an environment where bombing were sufficiently frequent to make one inclined to take them seriously.
I've mentioned before something that highlighted to me the contrast between someone with NI experience (me) and someone with just English experience (facilities management). One of the other tenants in a glass-walled business received occasional bomb threats. They were taken sufficiently serious that the building would be evacuated but not, inmy view, seriously enough.
FM's idea was that people would walk round the end of the building, following a path very close to it, to the assembly area on the opposite side of the building to our exit.. Mine was that I'd exit the building and proceed in as straight a line as possible as perpendicular as possible to the facade until I'd reached a safe distance and if you want to walk past a glass wall with, potentially, a bomb inside it you're welcome. I'd seen what a bomb detonated a few tens of metres from my place of work had done and heard accounts from those who'd been there at the time.
So-called hate speech is already a messy precedent which should be repealed.
Incitement to commit an offence should be sufficient. And it might actually be useful if police were to take death threats and other threats of assault seriously - rather than bending over backwards when someone says that their so-called gender identity feelings have been challenged.
I agree. 'Hate' has morphed into 'giving offence'. The 'offended' whine to the police rather than muster words in response.
There are movements, one of which you mention, manoeuvring into a position whereat they cannot be criticised even when using moderate language. They, on the other hand, happily accuse everyone who dares treat them with anything less than total respect as suffering from one sort or another "phobia".
By using "phobia" they make false claim of others fearing them. Perhaps it eggs their importance in their own eyes. Depending upon context the 'phobic' are expressing some of the following: disagreement, distaste, ridicule, and contempt. None of those four stances ought of itself alone fall within the remit of criminal law.
Nope, you mean 'Taking offence'. Giving offence means there was intent to do so.
I am offended that you didn't know this.
Giving offence has an element of reason with it: One where it is considered if a reasonable person would see the statement as intending to offend. Mostly the answer is no. But in taking offence, it's the individual's feeling that matter, not the intention. As such, anyone can take offence for anything, and there is no reason to it as, if you claim my taking offence is unreasonable... that's offensive!
And round and round and round we go...
I'm reasonable and you're unreasonable?
It used to officially be along the lines of an average man on the Clapham omnibus, but that's rather outdated now for several reasons.
It is a rather moving target, yet turns up all over the place.
Eg almost all Health & Safety law revolves around the term "Reasonable".
There is quite a lot of precedent, but again, precedent lags culture and the law by a very long way. Mostly because politicians seem to lag culture by about fifty years - when they're not actively destroying it, of course.
@elsergiovolador: what kind of criteria a person must meet to be deemed as "reasonable" ... ?
This question was resolved ages ago in many jurisdictions where people were supposed to be judged by their peers who would obviously be best positioned to judge whether something was reasonable (including notions such as "reasonable doubt", etc.).
So, for instance, to judge whether a tweet was "reasonable" and not "intentionally malicious" I suppose you would be well advised to ask a sample of Twitter users.
"Out of curiosity what kind of criteria a person must meet to be deemed as "reasonable" ..."
You and me Darling, obviously. Field Marshall Haig, Field Marshall Haig's wife, all Field Marshall Haig's wife's friends, their families, their families' servants, their families' servants' tennis partner , and some chap I bumped into in the mess the other day called Bernard.
There are existing laws (pre-internet in most cases) against threats of violence , incitement, slander, malicious communications, etc.
A new law is unnecessary, and of little point when the police don't enforce the existing ones.
Secondly, creating a specially protected class is highly dubious, especially when that class is politicians. There is risk of a chilling effect.
"Frankly, any politician who supports that fascist bill."
Speaking of fascism, Umberto Eco had a few words to say about that back in 1995 - words which ring uncomfortably true today when you use them as a checklist against utterances of politcians today:
Bear in mind that Mr Eco lived through the rise of Italian Fascism and got to see it "up close and personal"
A government matching a couple of items on the list is one thing. Once you can start tickiing off most of them, serious problems are brewing
There is a fundamental asymmetry of power in the relationship between government (i.e. politicians) and the governed.
MPs can and do destroy livelihoods, rip apart families, withdraw services, and occasionally send people off to kill and die through the simple act of walking through a magic door when a bell rings. I am inclined to allow their mostly powerless (unless they happen to live in one of a small number of marginal seats or are one of an even tinier number of violent nutters) constituents the outlet of a howl of rage and frustration now and again when they are touched by what they see as unfair choices. I don’t see the fact that politicians (or their staff) now actually get to see a bit of it now and again as it scrolls across their social media feeds, and that it sometimes causes them some level of discomfort as an entirely bad thing…
The powers-that-be need to remember that there are time honoured and very effective methods of political dissent that are far more harmful than an inflammatory tweet. Just ask the Romanovs or the Bourbons about that ...
Take away the ease of essentially effortless and commitment free online protest and something far darker and more lethal may take its place.
Or has the politically inspired bloodbath of previous centuries now been forgotten? Repaced with sepia toned Hollywood faux nostalgia for a past that was far from pleasant for those who survived it.
The problem comes when a tiny minority decide they are the arbiters of all truth and justice and set about informing their representatives, and those of other constituents, to the mistakes being made. Usually repeatedly and occasionally with dire warnings of how not changing ones ways, mind and stance is a 'bad thing'.
We don't need an uprising to put those who deem themselves to be our political betters in their place: We should only need to find a suitable candidate to run against them, get enough votes and bing! We've replaced a political better with a proper, independent representative who knows they are only there by the power of the people and nothing more nor less.
Yes, I know: It's a pipe dream, but occasionally it does happen...
Assuming the UK decides it wants to rejoin the EU, it will have to ditch FPTP and move to a properly representative system of government in order for an application to be accepted.
Ironically this was a condition mostly penned by the Blair government to placate existing members about authoritation leaning worries when he was pushing to get Eastern European countries allowed in
And now the Tories have been told to call any criticism of them "online abuse". Twitter is now full of Tories accusing others of abuse when it clearly isn't.
Would making a "throat-cutting" gesture while a politician is speaking be an incitement to violence? If so, somebody should probably warn Essex MP (and prominent Brexit supporter) Mark Francois, who did it while then-Prime Minister Theresa May was talking about Brexit in the House of Commons in 2019. Or do gestures fall under Parliamentary Privilege?
The most recent terrorist attack was the result of a lone, radicalised religious extremist.
Twitter et al. didn't even exist at the time of 9/11 and 7/7, so why has online anonymity entered the politicians' cross-hairs? Furthermore, when serious threats from anonymous accounts have been made in the past, the authorities have often managed to trace them back to an individual.
Once again this is another example of government overreach that does nothing to address the actual problem but conveniently helps curtail civil liberties.
It's such a crazy unsubstantiated link of two different things - 9/11 justifying Iraq invasion type proportions - that I wonder if there's some major details of the case we don't yet know, like the attacker wasn't in fact lone and was extensively incited online in some radical communities? Even if that's the case, it's surely difficult to show that's a cause rather than a correlation and even China-style censorship won't eradicate such communities anyway.
There don't _need_ to be major details
It's an opportunity for an authoritarian-leaning administration to grab the chance with both hands whilst it's presented
Let's not forget this is being pushed by the same woman who advocated using famine as a tool to subjugate Ireland (backed by backbenchers Johnson and Mogg - I wonder where they are now? Oh...)
Maybe (and this will probably get me branded a hateful, stiff armed, extreme right winger) the problem is the religion and political belief system doing the radicalising that is allowed to run rampant throughout western europe counter many of norms and values we built our societies on. Probably most of the individuals are fine and upstanding citizens. As a group, let's just say they have some work to do. And so far every time something happens they deny it's got anything to do with them. That silent majority doesn't matter until they stop remaining silent and admit there is a problem. But they won't.
.."religion and political belief system doing the radicalising that is allowed to run rampant throughout western europe counter many of norms and values we built our societies on"
Its not that long ago that in the UK, society as a whole was very mysoginistic, women wearing head coverings was the norm.
.. and of course the UK, was involved in a lot of historic religious wars (ironically quite a few of those against Islam)
So - women as second class citizens, religious war to promote the one true religion ... a lot of similarity with "norms and values we built our society on"
Fortunately, the opinions of a lot of UK people has improved since then, but its only really in very recent history that major changes have occurred (and as any UK woman will tell you, there's still a long way to go in many peoples attitudes)
For a WTF experience, use search engine of your choice and see how recent it was that UK women were not allowed bank accounts in their own name without their husbands permission.
I'm well aware how far even western society has come in relatively recent times (the merits of some of those changes may be subject to debate but that's a different discussion). But the point is, should we not be trying to avoid moving backwards by allowing the spread of these incompatible religious and political dogmas that would have us immediately undo all that was gained and put women back under the boot of men as mere property?
Edit to add: also, look at the rights of women in the middle east in the more dogmatic countries and you'll probably come to the conclusion that even in our "close minded and mysoginistic" days of a century or even 60 years ago, women had it better in "the western world".
Its not that long ago that in the UK, society as a whole was very mysoginistic, women wearing head coverings was the norm.
Woman haven't been required to wear hair coverings in the UK for as long as we have recorded history, which encompasses at least two and a half millennia.
Showing bare hair is largely a function of modern shampoo making that particular look viable for those who could afford it. Prior to that impossible to wash and style greasy hair didn't really look that attractive and wearing a hat or wig with hair powder was the fashion pretty much back to antiquity for both men and woman.
.. and of course the UK, was involved in a lot of historic religious wars (ironically quite a few of those against Islam)
The UK (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and [Northern] Ireland has existed since 1800. The number of religious wars we have been involved in is zero, although you could possibly consider the anglo-Sudan war a religious war if you squinted; A chap who successfully launched a rebellion against the government of Sudan took over the Sudan, before then (simultaneously) invading the Empire of Ethiopia, Empire of Italy, Egypt, Eritrea and the Congo free state, before being crushed by the combined forces of all of the above plus us, and we only got into it due to the Egyptian government skilfully getting us involved rather than any religious motive on our part, so I doubt that you mean that?
Prior to that you have the nation of Great Britain (being the union of England and Wales) which takes you back to 1707, which fought zero religious wars. The glorious revolution of 1688 hardly qualifies as a religious war so presumably you don't mean that.
The Commonwealth of England fought zero religious wars, and going further back the rest of Europe didn't care much about fighting a war with England over creating our own church so Henry VIII could have divorces on demand.
In fact the last religious war England was involved in would have been the Crusades in the 11th century? Presumably that's what you mean. Of course at the time England was being held as a conquest by the House of Plantagenet (eg the family of William the conqueror) by a King of England and France who spent perhaps six months of his entire life in England as it was only part of his [French] empire and he had a lively sense of self preservation and didn't fancy being bumped off by the locals in England. In that war we were at best a source of tax income for the Plantagenet kingdom/empires war securing their southern borders.
So presumably that's what you mean, although i'm not really sure how it qualifies as much of an involvement and i'm not sure why the (near complete lack of involvement) in religious wars is actually ironic.
Claiming that the Glorious Revolution had no religious component is stretching the definition a little far, in my opinion. The consequences of this rumbled on until 1745 (post-Union with Scotland).
The Bishops Wars were about Charles I imposing the rule of the Church of England on the Kirk (a clear religious question). Although you many consider them minor in themselves, they led to the beginning of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms/English Civil War, which occupied much of the next 12 years.
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I wouldn't claim that it has no religious component. It clearly did, however the OP clearly states "historic religious wars", which reduces things to a very short set if you accept the common definition of wars as including campaigns and battles.
Calling the glorious revolution a war stretches the notion of a war somewhat beyond breaking point; only one side turned up to any of the battles as the Royal Army (twice the size of the invading force) deserted enmasse to support William and Mary who was the son-in-law and daughter of James I, respectively with their march to London to accept the throne offered to him by the House of Lords.
The only fighting took place years afterwards when James legged it to France and his family was paid to come and start a war in Ireland "to restore the Stuarts to the throne" (or alternatively to divert British troops from doing something useful) every time Britain and France went to war for the next ~60 odd years.
"Woman haven't been required to wear hair coverings in the UK for as long as we have recorded history, which encompasses at least two and a half millennia."
Accepting "the UK" as shorthand for either the island of Britain, the whole archipelago including Ireland or anything in between: we have two and a half millennia of recorded history?
Even stretching "recorded history" to include the occasional reference as seen from the far end of the Mediterranean: we have recorded history sufficiently detailed to record requirements for hair covering?
If you examine the right wing papers comments section, there is so much hate and bile against those who are not right wing, i am surprised that the comments are not deleted.
The Tory government including the PM called/inferred that people are traitors if they did not follow the right wing position. This just emboldened the right wing extremists, and encouraged more bile and hate on forums/comments sections of the online media.
One aspect that should be included in any discussion is that the MP's consistently/persistently lie. They give an answer to the question they wanted to be asked.
So many MP's have acted with dishonour, the PM being prime example, and their attitude and behaviour shows that they are detached from the reality of the people, that they are in a significant part, to blame for the cause of peoples behaviour. The right wing media don't help either.
" there is so much hate and bile against those who are not right wing, i am surprised that the comments are not deleted."
I am glad they are not.
OIn this modern age these cannot be unpublished and in future those comments will come back to haunt the posters
One of the more interesting issues in postwar Germany was that all the atrocities seemed to be committed by only a few hundred hardcore Nazis. Everyone else denied involvement and records had "disappeared"
The actual lesson there was "Ordinary people did it" - they were manipulated into that way of thinking and the pattern is clear to even an amateur student of history who cares to look at the way media has been slanted over the last 40 years
" it would do a bang-up job on those newspapers and TV stations who push harmful agendas under the flag of freedom of speech. Sure, keep on saying it, you just can't make money at it."
Yeah, that's not the magic solution the author seems to think. Refusing to allow people to make money from content you disagree with is effectively saying 'you must pay your own publishing costs out of your own pocket'. It isn't quite outright censorship, but it's pretty close. Imagine the government said the Telegraph and Daily Mail are allowed to sell their newspapers, but the Guardian isn't because they're 'wrong'. Apparently the author thinks that would be fine, dandy, and not a problem.
In any case, it runs into the same problems all censorship does: all is fine when it's the 'right' people being censored, but what about when the censorship is something you disagree with?
"Imagine the government said the Telegraph and Daily Mail are allowed to sell their newspapers, but the Guardian isn't"
Straw man alert!
I get that there is ultimately the question of "who decides what's allowed?", but that will always be the case. The proposed framework at least results in a regulatory environment that doesn't require ID-ing everyone online, and forces ad-slingers (the absolute vilest category on teh internet) to clean up their houses. If there is a disagreement with the regulator, the courts get to decide what is reasonable speech and what is not (and when called upon they seem to do a decent enough job of that).
The biggest problems with online speech at the moment are (a) allowing giant online platforms to self-regulate and not consider them to be publishers because someone else is writing the content. Well, if every single post from every single one of my FB* contacts showed up in my feed in strict chronological order, they might even have a leg to stand on. But they are curating exactly and with great care what I, and every single person on their platform, sees. That it's done by an algorithm is besides the point, it's their algorithm and they control it.
and (b) allowing giant ad networks to control all the advertising market with zero oversight as to where the ads get placed, which ad-server gets to serve which ads where, are clicks/views being correctly counted, and is the advertiser getting their ads viewed or their money's worth. As it is, advertisers have to be happy to take Google / FBs word for it that their ads are reaching any real human audience at all let alone relevant real humans who click and/or convert to a sale.
*Could by FB, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, tiktok or anything else
Apparently you don't know the difference between a straw man and an illustrative hypothetical. It suggests the rest of your nonsense isn't worth reading - but I did anyway, and confirmed it.
"ultimately the question of "who decides what's allowed?", but that will always be the case"
Yes, that's why it's a bad idea. End of story.
> I get that there is ultimately the question of "who decides what's allowed?"
The people who buy printer's ink by the tankerload, of course
This is pretty much the root cause of the problem and a good chunk of radicalisation is a reaction to the extreme agenda they've been pushing
There are strong arguments in favour of the idea that the rise of XYZ fundamentalism worldwide is a direct and synmetrical response to the rise of American Christian Fundamentalism - and if you look closely at that, you'll find it's systematically been built up as a way of destroying the New Deal as an alliance with US corporate interests forged in September 1940
(Hint: plug "How Corporate America created Christian America" into your favourite search engine and wander down the rabbit hole for a while, no tinfoil needed) :(
Don't forget: Media _HAS_ been used to force countries into wars they didn't want to get involved with before - one standout example being the Spanish-American war and J Randolph Hearst, after a convenient boiler accident in Havana. All that matters is selling more media and more advertising revenue
To continue the analogy
If they are going to replace the "pirate" internet with an official government approved service playing a watered down censored version of the stuff "the youth" like, but entirely staffed by pedophiles - where can they possibly recruit them from ?
"You won't find the successful appliance of regulation to content mentioned in the debate, such as it is, on regulating online content for harm"
This is typical of government initiated debates and requests for comments - the frame of reference typically misses the point. The currently open DCMS Consultation 'Data: A new direction' is a clear example. Of 169 questions, rather than seeking independent opinion, all but a few are couched in terms of "To what extent do you agree..." with some proposal briefly outlined in the accompanying text, and many of them are even more narrowly constrained, reading like exam questions, e.g. "Please explain your answer, with reference to the barriers and risks associated with the activities of different types of data intermediaries, and where there might be a case to provide cross-cutting support). Consider referring to the styles of government intervention identified by Policy Lab - e.g. the government’s role as collaborator, steward, customer, provider, funder, regulator and legislator - to frame your answer.".
However the word "rights" only occurs once among all the questions and only once as "rights and freedoms" - i.e. the human rights of data subjects are considered in only one question out of around 150. This might seem to the cynical as an attempt to obtain justification for weakening the protections the GDPR currently affords data subjects.
Incidentally (or maybe not) a strong thread throughout the consultation document is that data controllers seem to have difficulty complying with the current legislation, whereas in my professional experience it is more common for them not to really care about compliance beyond the perfunctory minimum needed to avoid penalties. Consequently I would advocate better enforcement, rather than, as is apparent from this document, proposing to weaken the legislation to accommodate the non-compliance by making it lawful.
I strongly recommend anyone who is concerned about privacy to participate in the consultation, which closes on November 19th.
Maybe I take offence too easily, so please let me know if I was too sensitive, but the following is what happened:
On the Sunday morning after the killing of Sir David Amess, his assailant was described on BBC Radio 4, both the 9 O'Clock 'broadcasting House' and the One O'Clock News as "A Briton of Somali Heritage". I found this to be offensive as there was no explanation of why his Somali heritage was in any way relevant, and that description equally well fits Sir Mo Farah, the four times Olympic champion.
I complained to the BBC about it and this is their reply (omitting names):
"Thank you for contacting us regarding Broadcasting House broadcast on 17 October and for sharing your feedback.
We note your concerns with our reporting of Sir David Amess' death.
The BBC aims for the highest standards that include fairness, accuracy and impartiality. The information is already available in the public domain, however, we appreciate you feel it was insensitive to refer to Ali 's Somalian heritage and we apologise for any unhappiness caused.
We also never condone any form of discrimination, irrespective of ethnic or national origins, gender, sexuality, faith, disability or age. These values extend right across all of our programming and it is something which we take very seriously.
Please be assured we value your feedback on this matter. All complaints are sent to senior management and we’ve included your points in our overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the company and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future content."
I don't really find this reply satisfactory. So any comments from the wisdom that is the Register readership would be welcome. Am I right to be concerned about the possible racism in the description, or am I a 'snowflake' who has been reading far too many books on racism and oppression of Black people recently*?
(Since 17th October, the BBC has not mentioned his Somali heritage again.)
* The latest one being Michael Holding's 'Why we kneel, how we rise'.
Boris Johnson, a Briton of Turkish heritage ...
"During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was one of the Central Powers allied with the German Empire, and Kemal's son and daughter living in England adopted their maternal grandmother's maiden name of Johnson. His son Osman also began to use his middle name of Wilfred as his first name. (Osman) Wilfred Johnson later married Irene Williams (the daughter of Stanley F. Williams of Bromley, Kent, by his marriage to Marie Luise, Freiin von Pfeffel, born in 1882) and their son Stanley Johnson became an expert on the environment and population studies and a Conservative member of the European Parliament. His son Boris Johnson, Kemal's great-grandson, became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 24 July 2019."
Ahh, well, the thing is, I met one of my German great grandparents once. When I was little (probably 7 or 8, I'd just made an Airfix* Lancaster 'Dam Busters' model) I met Omama, my grandfather's mother, who came to visit us. I remember she didn't speak any English, and I didn't speak any German, but we did sort of get on ok.
But she is the only one I actually met.
*Airfix made plastic injection models for people to assemble and paint at home, 1/72 scale was the most popular scale.
I have to disagree with you there. Firstly, since most people remember who their grandparents were, nearly everyone who has talked about it with their own parents will know at least something about their great-grandparents. Secondly, drawing up a family tree is a popular hobby among elderly people with an internet connection and a subscription to Ancestry.com. They are usually more than happy to discuss their findings with relatives, in my experience.
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There is a difference between knowing your ancestors, and bragging how many (in)-famous twats from history you are descended from, and making out that your better than the rest of us due to that.
The latter are generally inbred fuckwits, who should be no where near government.
Almost worthy of a credit to Tom Lehrer
"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That's not my department!" says Wernher von Braun
Like the widows and cripples in old London town
Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun
"What are the BBC to do ?"
They should be consistent in what they report independently of the positive/negative context. For example, I can't remember the reporting on the Olympics so clearly, but I don't think that they very prominently headlined* Mo Farah's Somali descent. Nor, for example, in the murder of Jo Cox was it headlined* that the shooter was white and British.
Or, as Romelu Lukaku said of the press, (paraphrasing) "when I play well I'm Belgian and well I play badly I'm of Congolese origin"
*of course it might have been / probably was in teh further detail but a lot of people skim through headlines and first few paragraphs - so how article content is laid out is very relevant, and more to teh point journalists know this full well.
> Likewise the calls to enforce ID for users. This breaks down on every level – infosec, effectiveness and sanity
Well, yes, this is true. But it is only true because of what the Internet has become: a vital extension of our private space. Now I was born the previous century, many years before the intertubes connected us all into this angry ball of hate, and I can't help thinking that things might have been very different if access to them had been predicated on your identity being known from the start. You know, a bit like how your car has to carry license plates. It's a public network after all, much like how the road network is a public network, and a network on which we're belatedly beginning to realise that an individual's ability to do harm to others is just as great. Sure, it would have meant the whole "information wants to be free" cyber-punk movement of the 80s and 90s* wouldn't have happened; no Napster, Piratebay or Oink's Pink Palace, but you know what, life was kind of ok before it. The Internet would still be just as useful, when it comes to reading the news, ordering food, downloading user manuals, looking things up in an encyclopedia or watching films, but mass disinformation campaigns would be
impossible a lot harder to conduct - and my mother's cousin might still be alive because she wouldn't have seen an endless stream of posts on facebook about how Bill Gates is trying to kill us all with his evil vaccine. Or at least she might have died while still on friendly terms with the rest of her family.
*) A movement, I might add, I very much considered myself a part of. Still do I guess, but quo vadis?
Anonymity is needed for lots of reasons
e.g. you are a citizen of a country where gay rights are not a thing, and being a known gay could mean prison or even death.
With anonymity a gay person in a repressive country can at least feel less isolated as they can communicate with others in the gay community (in their country or worldwide) ... yes, still a chance nasty regime could trace them, with horrendous consequences, but its far more difficult than if all internet activity is linked to a proven identity.
Going dangerously close to Godwins Law, but look what happened when Dutch ID cards in WWII featured religious identity - that did not turn out well for Jews living in Holland / Netherlands (pick your name of choice)
The Internet would still be just as useful, when it comes to reading the news, ordering food, downloading user manuals, looking things up in an encyclopedia or watching films
No, it wouldn't. Except, maybe, the last.
The reason we have that diversity today is because, unlike all previous communications channels, this one was free (not, primarily, free from money - but free from permission).
Without that, there would only be news provided by commercial companies to their subscribers - people who already agree with them - just like traditional newspapers. User manuals were provided by hobbyists, often violating copyright laws and requiring anonymity - the only reason they are provided by manufacturers today is that they want to attract people to their own commercial sites by offering that content instead of letting the anonymous posters get the clicks. As for an encyclopedia - how on earth would that have happened without Wikipedia - the largest of the original "information wants to be free" sites?
Films? Yes. But not at today's prices, which have to compete with piracy.
Really appreciate you all offering your critique of my thought experiment - and I hope it's clear from the title that it really is just that; I do not advocate nor support any legislation which would reduce anonymity online today. That cat is long out of the bag and busy chasing
mice touchscreens. I do feel that you are somewhat missing my point though, which is that diverse human society existed long before the Internet, replete with dissent and copyright violation and journalism and freedom of speech and anonymity and hobbyists and successful sexual and minority liberation movements. All of those things existed long before the Internet, and arguably were often of a higher grade than the vapid echo chamber we now find ourselves trapped in. Reading your responses I can't help wondering, how old are you? Do you understand how insignificant the social developments of the last fifty years are compared to those achieved in the fifty years preceding them? In fact in many ways we are regressing. The price we have paid is complete dependence on a technology that now threatens to undermine the very mechanism which makes change possible: democracy.
I sometimes think we are approaching a point where the best we can hope for is another Carrington Event.
In a society that is already politically free, a free (speech) internet is a mixed bag. In those other societies that were closed, it has been the first free thing for most of the population and the effects have been explosive. That's not an argument for an unregulated internet, just an argument for free speech generally.
I understand your concern but I am not quite as pessimistic. I have studied the history of human rights for the last 100 years (as well as remembering more than 50 of them!) and we certainly can't rest on our laurels - authoritarianism has spread to the (formerly liberal) West and certainly is a major threat.
But the Internet, even in the way we use it today, is an extremely valuable tool for freedom, even while it is also a powerful tool for authoritarianism. Anyone who has been to one of the Stasi museums and seen how close they came to preventing the fall of the Berlin wall despite the limited technology of the times, realises that modern technology might have tipped that particular event the other way.
But, Samizdat was powerful in communist Russia and helped lead to eventual liberalisation there. It isn't enough to prevent the stranglehold of a modern dictator but that is why Signal/Telecom, Tor, GnuPG and anonymity are critical for today's fighters for human rights.
And in the West, yes, the Internet and its giant companies who think only of greed and not the future of freedom, have led to the rise of populist politicians who don't address real problems (economic, social, climate, etc) but hide behind fear and xenophobia. But the Internet also provides the best tool we have to counter those: end-to-end encryption and anonymity, mesh networking for P2P communications, easy organisation of protests and even direct fundraising for single-issue campaigners.
Yes the fight is hard: the tools are powerful but they are available to the "bad" guys (however each of us define that) as well as the "good" guys. But I am still optimistic that we won't undo the post-WWII consensus on democracy founded on human rights.
sorry, but the present rise of authoritarian politicians in all governments does not bode well for the future.
The problem is once they have a foot hold it's really fucking hard to remove them, as they don't have restrictions on their psychopath violence they will use to stay in power.
For an exmple, please see Hitler/German history, that took a fucking world war to stop, and remember rather a lot of Americans were perfectly happy with him, and resisted helping.
They only just avoid their own fucking right wing coup in january this year.
UK has it's own present problem with right wing nutters. (some even turn up on here!!!, you know who you are, come on with the down votes)
"authoritarianism has spread to the (formerly liberal) West and certainly is a major threat."
It has primarily developed as a response to terrorism, where the terrorists were mainly objecting to the freedoms of the West - they must be gobsmacked to see that they've effectively "won" and keep increasing their win as they up the ante
Even before opting to install, let alone when opened, each and every social network app is required to have (exactly the same), full-screen banner warning of the potential personal hurt, damage and dangers that lurk within! Akin to the wrapping on cigarette packets etc. Said banner should remain on screen for 30 seconds (with no other activity permitted in that time), and be subtly updated/edited over time (months etc.), so that it is less easy to ignore. Non-compliant networks will be both banned and fined etc.
What would be the point? Some sort of acknowledgement and acceptence of the possibilities of harm? It certainly wouldn't stop potential harm.
There is potential harm, including physical harm, going out your own door and into any public space. Just because we are all aware of that harm, and accept that risk, that doesn't negate the responsibility of the person causing said harm. The same applies to the online world. The fact that you receive a warning doesn't negate the responsibility of another user if they threaten or harrass you.
Such a banner warning would be meaningless, both in effect and in law.
"It's this approach, shifting business models towards responsibility ..., that works best. Pirate radio ... continued happily after their content was brought within the BBC... but the dark side of pirate radio, the extremist religious content, faded away to the nerdy wilderness of shortwave."
So the 'hate' content will fade away into the dark web, still accessible to those individuals who want to find it. Neither the government or business based approach will work. The 'extremists' will still find the material they need but the mass majority of 'ordinary' users will suffer. The cat is out of the bag. The only way to solve the issue is to remove the cause of the problems. Unfortunately human nature being what it is, that may not be possible.
1. Authentication of true identity is possible.
2, It is possible to write or say something which will offend no one.
3. There are no "backdoors" in Cisco equipment.
4. Politicians (notably Priti Patel and Ben Wallace) actually understand technology.
5. Social media are useful.
......and so on.......
Our Dear LeadersTM don't live on the same planet as we the Plebs do. They think we should be grateful to be led by such brilliant people, how lucky we are to have them. They are totally disconnected from our reality. Instead of trying to represent us, they think they have to make us understand that their point of view is the right one.
Democracy may be the worst form of government except for all the others, the reality is we live in plutocracies.
A small amendment to existing laws. Classifying social media sites as publishers/distributers would put an end to most of this nonsense.
The ability to sue Facebook/Instagram/Twitter for liable would force them to take the harm they do seriously, and, empower the victims
of abuse and fraud.
This would inevitably destroy there current business model.
But to give a Benthmite analysis.
racist abuse, sexist abuse *ist abuse.
promoting anti-vaxers, qAnon ISIS
letting Putin have fun with democracy
making teenage lives even more of a misery
We get to look at lots of kitten pictures
Zuck makes lots of money
Some 1% of jokes are funny enough to cause laughter
Sure, of course it would - no argument there.
It would also prevent us using them to develop and run campaigns for social change (or even against a government intent on destroying the consensus on rights-based, open democracy). It would prevent communications of state abuses, of business corruption and political cronyism, of failures of government policies, of abuse by authorities (police, councils, etc), and more.
Plenty of people are happy to live in Singapore. It is probably one of the safest countries in the world. It is also one of the least free.
I, however, am not. British values have always been about freedom and openness, diversity, permissionless innovation and thought. Social media crap, and a certain level of day-to-day risk, is the price we pay for that. It is what my parents fought for in WWII. It is why I had to put up with the risk of nuclear annihilation as a small child. And it is what I campaign for today.
Newspapers and TV channels regularly challenge politicians and uncover croneyism and abuses of power without risking the ire of the courts. There are many and well known precedents to establish what is acceptable free speech and what is libellous.
You can accuse a politician of bribe taking and corruption -- but it needs to be the truth backed by reasonable evidence.
People are dying because of misinformation, hate based communities and malevolent abuse carried by social media.
I really do not see how you can equate Qanon with "freedom openness and diversity"
I agree with Mr Goodwins' article but I don't think UK 'naval action' will work.
The Marine &. Broadcasting (Offences) Act 1967 was brought in to stop the pirates broadcasting to the UK, but also to launch BBC Radio 1 (there was no prior equivalent of the music the pirates played on BBC radio). From memory, four pirates continued broadcasting after that date. They received their 'money beer and diesel' from ports in the Netherlands. The pirates were eventually killed off in 1974 by the Dutch equivalent of the 1967 Act.
So UK Gov didn't kill off all the pirates. The bloody Europeans did. But there's still enough pirate radio stations in the east end of London to keep anyone happy.
UK Gov also tried to kill off the software pirates. They haven't done very well at that either, as anyone with access to a proxy will confirm.
Trump also wanted to change section 230 so he could sue anyone that was mean to him. This will be the same. Not only that we have the idiot that is Mark Francois (oh, is that illegal now? I've called an MP an idiot) said that "David's Law" should be introduced, then it we see old footage surface of him being technically "aggressive" himself when he said "We are signing your death warrant" he it is in context
Understand, that politician and governments WILL NEVER admit responsibility for anything. It is always, someone else's fault.
A troubled young man, who was known to the FBI, purchases a gun, passes all background checks and waiting periods, then 6 months later decides to walk into a Charleston, SC black church and start shooting people. Was the FBI question about the fact that they knew about this man, that they knew about his racist and troubling views? That they knew about this man prior to his applying for a firearm purchase? NO! The rhetoric was that it was "White supremacist online discourse that radicalized him", that he "purchased a gun and immediately shot up a church!" (an outright lie by the gun grabbers)
When NYC suffered cataclysmic flooding when the remnants of a hurricane. (that had crossed 1000 miles of land before it reached NYC.) Did any question the city official as to why the cities drainage system was so woefully inadequate to handle the rain fall? No, they did not, they just allowed these people to completely abdicate their responsibility and blame the whole thing on "Climate Change"!
So we allow these people, who we elected, to use every incident to instill fear among the populous so they can creep closer and closer to the establishment of the police state they so desire. And there are so many among us, at least 50% of the population in the US, who will welcome this police state with open arms, all for the promise of security and the punishment of those they politically oppose!
We have a Federal Law Enforcement agency is the US, the FBI, that routinely operates Honey Pot sting operations that use civilian operatives to radicalize people. Muslims and those opposed to Left wing political movements. People who would normally not even consider engaging in any acts of violence, yet they are pushed forward by paid operatives of the FBI. In several cases this has resulted in innocent people being killed. Yet the FBI is never questioned about these operations, never questioned about why they are inciting people to commit violence just so they can arrest them.
If you doubt this, look up the name Stewart Rhodes. Stewart Rhodes is the founder of the Oath Keepers here in the US. The FBI has obtained many emails and text messages from him inciting his followers to commit violence on January 6th. Yet Stewart Rhodes is a free man! Not so for his followers who have all been arrested. Why is this man free? A man who's entire persona, all of his qualification for founding the Oath Keepers has been proven fake. Who some former members are convinced he is a FBI operative! Why? Because he IS an FBI operative, an operative specifically charged with founding an organization with the purpose of entrapping ex-military personnel who have anti-leftist political views!
The problem is, as others have said.
"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it"
Incidentally if anyone wants to discuss this please message me.
I am all for trying to tackle the problem of online trolling, and even went the whole "not using Anonymous Coward" option.
Alas even with these steps still had problems with people then thinking it was acceptable to hassle my employer on the basis of
a simple misunderstanding that was easily resolved.
"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it"
It used to. The problem more recently with several large backbones is that the number of alternate paths is low and the routing increasingly fragile
Telcos getting into the IP game was a bad thing for robustness and censorship resistance
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