February 12, 2020

Online Harms Regulation Threatens Free Speech

Appointing state regulator for online speech creates censorship incentives: ‘duty of care’ is vague and an undefined concept


Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

“This is a dangerous proposal that could cause vast restrictions on free speech. The police recently included Extinction Rebellion in their guidance on terrorism. Private companies would be deciding what is legal or illegal, and will always remove more than they need, rather than less.

“Duties could also create a vast surveillance capability to monitor content as it is posted online.

“The government proposes a state regulator overseeing the speech of millions of citizens. Yet this will regulate press content by the backdoor, when posted to social media.

“The state should not police the speech of its citizens. That is an obvious conflict, which is why it is left to the courts.

“Instead, the government should seek to ensure that companies have sufficient independent scrutiny of their actions. This is known as co-regulation, and could be supervised by Ofcom.”

Additionally, ORG warns that the proposed ‘duty of care’ remains an open-ended and vague concept that needs vastly clearer definition. 

ENDS

Contact

Jim Killock 07894498127 / press@openrightsgroup.org

Notes to the editor

Government ‘minded’ to appoint Ofcom as Internet regulator: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-minded-to-appoint-ofcom-as-online-harms-regulator