Techdirt Podcast Episode 270: Regulating The Internet Won't Fix A Broken Government

from the when-you-have-a-hammer dept

Questions of content moderation and intermediary liability have seeped into just about everything these days, and not just with regards to Section 230 but also a whole host of laws in the US and around the world. A lot of people seem to think that a long list of societal and political failings can be rectified by regulating content online, and don’t talk about how these problems run deeper and have been around for a long time. One person who doesn’t fall into this trap is Heather Burns from the Open Rights Group, and she joins Mike on this week’s episode to talk about why regulating the internet won’t magically fix everything else.

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Comments on “Techdirt Podcast Episode 270: Regulating The Internet Won't Fix A Broken Government”

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3 Comments
Jono793 (profile) says:

Heather’s comparison of the online harms framework to health and safety law makes a lot of sense. Health and safety has long been a vector for culture-warrioring here in the UK.

Back when I was at university, there were various local controversies over licensing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). HMO laws were brought in in response to a fatal fire in 2000, in which two students were killed. The rules set a licensing regime, designed to set minimum standards for shared houses (fire alarms, safety checks on gas appliances, etc).

Licenses were done by local councils. They were supposed to be granted based on "does this house meet the legal standards for a HMO?"

instead, virtually every HMO licensing in my university town was bombarded by complaints of students playing loud music. Students vomiting in gardens. Students besmerching the community by their presence. etc. And then these licenses being refused for completely illegitimate reasons, completely undermining the policy objectives of the HMO law!

I’m seeing the same dynamic play out when discussing online harms. No interested in coherent, workable policy objectives, addressing the overwhelming benefits of the free internet against measurable harms. Instead it’s just a parade of horribles about teenage suicide, homophobic and racist bigotry, and paedophiles using Whatsapp. While having nothing to say about the vast, vast majority of law-abiding internet users, and how these restrictions would affect them!

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