UK MP Thinks Secret Online Groups Are The Root Of All Evil Online, Promises To Regulate 'Large Online Groups'

from the good-luck-with-that dept

It’s always fascinating to me when people try to condense the complex and varied reasons why people sometimes behave badly into a single factor for blame. This is especially true online. A commonly misdiagnosed “problem” is anonymity, despite the fact that studies show anonymous online users tend to be better behaved in online flame wars, than those using their real names.

British Member of Parliament Lucy Powell has come up with her own simplistic and ridiculous explanation for why people are bad online and has a plan to do something about it. In her mind, the real problem is… “large secret online groups.” She’s written a whole Guardian opinion piece on it, as well as given a Parliamentary speech on it, not to mention making the rounds to Reply

Anonymous Coward says:

Jeez! the politicians in the UK are becoming more and more ridiculous and more and more misguided in their quest to appear to be doing something to ‘prevent terrorism and the induction of children into porno situations’! if only they were as enthusiastic and committed to doing what the public voted them into office to do, rather than make out they were when, as is typical, all they want is the money, the fame and the prestige of their position, just think of the difference it would make! and those in the US would be the same!

Anonymous Coward says:

It worth noting the bill she has put froward is a Private Members’ Bill and they rarely become law.

Only two private bills put froward under the 10 minute rule became law during the in 2015-16 parliamentary session.

Online Forums Bill 2017-19

The text of the bill should be published after its second reading in October.

Jono793 (profile) says:

“…It would make those who run large online forums accountable for the material they publish”

Which is basically already the law!

Intermediary protections are much weaker than the USA. So While platforms benefit from some (limited) notice-and-takedown requirements, if they’re notified of defamatory or illegal content they become responsible if it isn’t taken down promptly.

What would this bill achieve, other than re stating the existing UK law, while being unenforceable against any services operating abroad?

Anonymous Coward says:

Good idea

Legitimate groups with legitimate goals will have no problem complying, and will do so as part of their promotional campaigns, which would be normal, usual and expected. They have a legitimate message they want to promote and convince an audience of, and signing their name to is is no problem.

Illegitimate groups with illegitimate and/or illegal goals would fight the idea tooth and nail, because exposure would be expensive to them. When you operate outside or at the very edge of the law, anonymity is a defensive weapon.

Good idea. Large anonymous secretive groups are likely criminal, just like those BitCoin guys (now in prison). No one would promote an organized and anonymous underground social structure except the criminal elements themselves. Legitimate groups are proud of their message and happy to promote themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Good idea

Define “government line”.

Unlike Obama, the Trump administration is not abusing the IRS, FBI, DOJ, CIA and the courts to deny legitimate Americans (like Carter Page) of their rights (including privacy) under the constitution and bill of rights.

If you operate a legitimate business, you have nothing to fear from the Trump administration. Trump represents all Americans, those who voted for him and those who didn’t, assuming they obey the law. Those that break the law, of course, have a different situation. That’s basically what “law-abiding” means and “law-breaking” means. Different situations.

Obama, on the other hand, was a nightmare for civil liberties of the law-abiding. More information about how corrupt his administration was comes out every day. His “government-line” crossed into criminal territory, as seen from any reasonable interpretation of the American Constitution.

But that’s over now, for the most part. Trump is firmly in charge, and the corruption is coming to light and getting cleaned up. I predict Obama will soon be begging for a pardon.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Good idea

Voted funny.

Please see recent events in the last 2 years for direct refutation of your points.

But just to humor you, hear is one specific example: Trump had the DOJ request that any visitor to a specific site organizing a protest to his inauguration be publicly identified so they could prosecute them. This would have resulted in millions of Americans, who didn’t even attend or participate in the protest, being identified and prosecuted. That wasn’t the end of it, but you get my point.


Re: Re: Re:2 Good idea

The recent events of the last 2 years only support him. It’s not Trump you have to be worried about. It’s all of the anti-Trupmers that are fine with corporate censorship and Brown Shirt tactics.

Pity anyone that works at Google and doesn’t completely drink the DNC Kool-Aid.

If you aren’t a socialist, you get labeled a Nazi and then it’s open season for assault and battery.

I hesitate to call these kinds of people “liberals” anymore (because they aren’t really).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Good idea

The recent events of the last 2 years only support him.

Can you provide proof of that? All the things I am aware of that have happened over the last few years seem to suggest otherwise.

Let’s review:

  1. Trump has attacked free speech and called for opening up libel laws as well as placing restrictions on what news can and cannot be reported
  2. Trump has attempted to return America to the days of racial segregation by kicking out not just illegal immigrants but also ones who are here legally and through the proper channels. He has also denied aid to hundreds of thousands of refugees and blocked their entry into the country because there "might" be one or two terrorists in their midst.
  3. Trump signed off on a measure that rolled back protections on Americans privacy on the internet, and at the same time restricted the FCC from EVER passing regulations to protect American’s internet privacy ever again.
  4. Trump’s closest circle has admitted to and been convicted of, but not limited to: bank fraud, deliberately lying to the FBI, and having improper contact with foreign government agents during the election.
  5. Trump continually demonstrates that not only does he not live in reality, he actively rejects sound science and factual evidence that has been thoroughly proven and tested and is not under debate. And no, I don’t mean climate change/global warming. We’re talking basic scientific principles here.
  6. Trump gets his news from Alex Jones and FoxNews, the former of which is a con artist and nothing truthful ever comes out of his mouth, and the latter, while at least attempting to engage in decent reporting, has a very hard time getting their facts straight and is constantly called out on it.
  7. Trump has no idea about technology or how it works, as is evidenced by several points above and his constant ignorant remarks regarding "the cyber".

And this is just what I can think of off the top of my head without making an extremely long post. And you say the past two years do nothing but support him? At the very least I’ve shown that to be outright false and he’s had some missteps in his presidency. At worst, he’s likely to go down as one of, if not THE worst president in current US history.

It’s all of the anti-Trupmers that are fine with corporate censorship and Brown Shirt tactics.

Oh yes, because no one who doesn’t support Trump has ever complained about having their posts deleted or being wholesale banned from a social media platform. Which is not censorship by the way.

I look forward to your reply/rebuttal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Good idea

Large anonymous secretive groups are likely criminal

Tell that to every single online forum where everyone is anonymous. Including, but not limited to: official Apple forums, official Microsoft forums, official forums for every video game ever made, health and medical forums, coding forums, system admin forums, REDDIT, imgur, tumblr, blogspot, deviantart, etc…

Basically what you’re saying is the entire internet is likely one giant criminal organization.

just like those BitCoin guys (now in prison)

Uh, what? Which BitCoin people are in prison again? No one from BitCoin is in prison as far as I’m aware. Other people who started illegitimate cryptocurrencies (not BitCoin) were put in jail for fraud and running a scam, but BitCoin was never part of that.

No one would promote an organized and anonymous underground social structure except the criminal elements themselves.

As stated above, you obviously don’t know the internet and the fact that the MAJORITY of official forums and social structures are all anonymous.

Legitimate groups are proud of their message and happy to promote themselves.

So are illegitimate groups. Neither requires them to publicly identify themselves. Legitimate groups can be proud of their message, happy to promote themselves, and completely anonymous. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Good idea

Then you obviously don’t actually visit the Apple and Microsoft forums. Neither require public identification and are completely anonymous.

Perhaps as an employee of Microsoft and Apple the requirements are different for you but for the public at large, their community is completely anonymous unless the individuals want to be publicly identified.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Good idea

So, just for perspective, on Facebook I am part of closed groups of: over 500 fans of a wrestling podcast (Going in RAW), over 500 people People who continue to use Mac OS 9 for various reasons, over 500 People who perform or used to perform rocky horror, and over 500 people who are fans of a book series (The stormlight Archive).

The Wrestling fan page (and the Book fan page) is closed for a number of reasons, including difficulty moderating posts and membership and because the discussions and memes are built up around that culture that may not be well received outside the context of that group and culture.

Many people who do Rocky Horror can not out those performances in their daily life for fear of loss of housing or employment. So this closed group allows them to discuss their hobby and post photos of costumes and makeup safely without that fear.

These are mundane. This law would not target secret groups that meet in person, only secret online groups. Secret online groups do not exist only to pursue political agendas. They also exist to allow people to discuss their hobbies and lives in private. Your argument is fundamentally flawed.

John Smith says:

Some people have ties to online “mafias” which anonymously harass and threaten (dox or worse) people that their money masters wish to silence. Confront them with evidence of this, connect the dots, and they either block, cover their ears, censor, or point to the poison itself that was put there in the search engines by these mobs.

Numerous white-collar professionals have been targeted for reputation blackmail by foreign interests who rely on intermediary immunity to weaponize the search results they poison.

Since these people are pure evil to begin with, rational discussion with them doesn’t get very far.

DeComposer (profile) says:

Stamping out dumbassery!

The next logical step is to regulate the speech of individuals gathered in large groups, such as conventions. Thought Police will mill amongst the crowds and moderate conversational comments in real time.

I other news, the 2019 Sexpo UK expo was cancelled after registered attendees learned that they would be permitted to discuss only weather and stamp collecting.

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