In April 2019, the UK issued an Online Harms White Paper to announce its campaign to rein in “harmful speech” on social media sites such as Facebook and TikTok. The public consultation period has ended and a full consultation response is expected in Spring 2020. (Initial Consultation Response here.) Legislation to criminalize freedom of speech will follow quickly.
Also read: Cryptocurrency Is Agorism in Action
The Death of Free Speech
“The United Kingdom has become the first Western nation to move ahead with large-scale censorship of the internet … Boris Johnson has unveiled rules that will punish internet companies with fines, and even imprisonment, if they fail to protect users from “harmful and illegal content.” Couched in language that suggests this is being done to protect children from pedophiles and vulnerable people from cyberbullying, the proposals will place a massive burden on small companies. Further, they will ultimately make it impossible for those not of the pervasive politically correct ideology to produce and share content.” —Mark Angelides, “Britain allows the internet to be censored, a warning for the U.S.”
The bill’s exact language is not known, but its thrust is clear. Internet companies with user-generated content will need to enforce anti-harm rules in order to avoid fines, imprisonment, or their sites being blocked. Home Secretary Priti Patel explained, “It is incumbent on tech firms to balance issues of privacy and technological advances with child protection.”
The main target of attack is end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) messages that can be read only by a sender and a recipient by using unique cryptographic keys as decoders. Third parties cannot access the content.