Government proposals to prevent online harms to politicians and those in public life
I may yesterday have given the impression that I in some way objected to our wise Leader's introduction of internet censorship for the UK. Nothing could be further from the truth. I recognise that the wise and reasonable proposals made by the fragrant Lady Morgan and the saintly Ms Patel will propel the UK into a place unknown by other democratic nations.
In particular, I applaud the wisdom of including perfectly legal and lawful content in the material to be censored. The White Paper is intended to protect vulnerable groups such as children and those active in public life, in circumstances in particular in which politicians and civil servants may be offended or disturbed by comments on their actions made by citizens. Politicians must be free to do as they wish without negative and sometimes hurtful comment from citizens. So even though such comments are quite legal, they must be banned from the internet for the public good.
Quite rightly neither the government, the courts, the regulator Ofcom or companies that provide platforms in return for advertising revenue wish to be bothered with vexatious complaints about censorship and injustice from individual citizens. The government will therefore make it practically impossible to appeal the arbitrary banning of content and voices, in the best interests of the State.
We also welcome moves to end internet anonymity in the UK. It is clearly simply wrong that so many individuals making comments on news sites, Twitter, blogs and other internet forums do so under assumed identities. During the recent General Election campaign, for instance, the government estimate that some 64% of anonymous political statements were posted by those from the civil and public services, who only form 39% of the workforce. As those employees are contractually forbidden from making public political statements, ending internet anonymity will either silence them or allow them to be easily dismissed from their posts. National productivity will also be increased as they will get on with making beds, policing bus lanes, changing colostomy bags and so on rather than fiddling with their phones.
I also applaud measures to be taken against disinformation and the saying of untrue things on the internet, and clearly the BBC must have a major role as the arbiter of what is truthful and can be stated and written by citizens in this regard.
Personally, I think the proposed legislation doesn't go far enough. There is no mention for example of regulating or banning cartoons that portray politicians in negative and sometimes hurtful ways. These must also be included in the scope of legislation or Twitter will become a mass of poorly-drawn caricatures posted by named persons in such a way that will evade censorship.
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