UK’s Likely Next Prime Minister Wants A Pony: A Magic Internet Where No One Ever Says Any Bad Things

from the please-live-here-in-reality dept

Is it too much to ask that politicians try to live in reality? The obsession over the past few years that anything bad that people say on the internet is the fault of the internet (rather than the people using it) and must be outlawed is already problematic enough. But the politicians and their “solutions” are reaching ever more ridiculous heights.

We’ve written a bunch about the UK’s Online Safety Bill, a “protect the children!” law that seems to have been written devoid of any concern for reality or basic civil liberties. As we’ve noted previously, the ideas in the bill appear to have been modeled on the original version of the Great Firewall of China, in which the government sends out vague decrees of “don’t let bad stuff exist online” with threats of massive punishment for any internet service that somehow lets bad stuff (again, vaguely defined) exist online. And that’s not even getting into how it also seeks to outlaw encryption. Though, honestly at this point, it seems like UK politicians view that as a side benefit to the whole thing.

There was a brief reprieve as the bill was temporarily shelved as the UK sought to fill its Boris Johnson-sized hole at the top of the government. There were even some Conservative politicians who (correctly) started calling out how the bill will be an absolute disaster for free speech. Some of the candidates for the Prime Minister slot even suggested that they were not fans of the Online Safety Bill. Unfortunately, it’s increasingly looking like Liz Truss will be the new PM. And, apparently Truss absolutely loves the idea of the Online Safety Bill. When confronted about the concerns for free speech, she had a simple answer: teenagers should get their own internet. Because that’s going to happen.

In a series of posts exploring the unfixable problems of the Online Safety Bill, open internet activist Heather Burns highlights what a total disaster the bill is, and how there are no fixes that can be made that can save it. As she notes, this very much creates a “splinternet” in which the UK internet is not just conceptually different than the rest of the worlds’ internet, but technically different as well, as it requires three effectively impossible features:

  1. A mandatory age verification layer
  2. A surveillance layer that will monitor all content
  3. An effective ban on end to end encryption (to better enable #2)

Truss’s comments more or less confirm that this is how the Online Safety Bill will work. She wants to create an entirely different internet, one that is fundamentally incompatible with the actual internet.

It seems likely that she doesn’t think she’s creating a new and incompatible internet. She just doesn’t understand any of this and is pushing the typical “but think of the children on the internet” moral panic that is so common these days.

But, it would be nice if, just once, we had politicians making these policies that actually understood how all this works, and that you can’t just wave a magic wand and make “bad” content disappear from the internet.

Is it too much to ask politicians to live in reality?

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Comments on “UK’s Likely Next Prime Minister Wants A Pony: A Magic Internet Where No One Ever Says Any Bad Things”

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46 Comments
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Retsibsi (profile) says:

And the surprise is.....?

Liz Truss is a notorious idiot, famed for her many blunders and gaffes. This is just one of ever so many from her. The sad thing is that she is currently on course to be elected by the Conservative Party as Prime Minister (not the UK electorate. Please don’t blame us for her.) Today, at the time of writing she is under fire for her all-new policy of “levelling down” the regions (she didn’t realise that was what she was doing. Really.) AND publicly insulting the First Minister of Scotland (she knew what she was doing there and went ahead with it anyway). Tomorrow? Who knows…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Meanwhile I recall that there were reports recently from within the party that Johnson was backing her because she’s “Mad as a box of frogs” and he hopes to win re-election off the back of her destroying the economy, so long as she doesn’t initiate a nuclear confrontation with Russia in the meantime.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

If you can't or won't be a parent don't have kids

She says she’s worried about what her teen daughters see but adults should have free speech.

So she’s not just a hypocrite but a terrible mother who wants to offload the whole ‘parenting’ thing onto anyone but herself.

If she’s worried about what her kids might see that’s on her to do something about it, not on everyone else to make sure they don’t see anything she doesn’t want them to.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

By that logic, the only way to protect the kids is to remove all adult content from the Internet, as an otherwise an adult could show them adult content.

From what I have seen of other people and their children, children seeing adult content does more damage to the adult parent than it does to the kids. The children go yuck when they see inappropriate content, while the parents obsess over what their children have seen. Then the kids reach the age when sex becomes interesting, and its time to talk the them, and not shield them the world.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:

^This. I recall seeing the bed-blender scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street as my mum’s friend was showing it to her when I was five years old. Mum said it would give me nightmares, but it never did. Even then I knew that it was impossible for liquid to drip from a pool on the ceiling, and that allowed me to recognise the scene as completely fake.

Philip Zack (user link) says:

Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology...

This is a demonstration of Arthur C Clarke’s dictum, that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Most people have no reason to know the technical side of how anything works any more. It’s all just a given that it does, and any indication of it is hidden under a friendly user interface.

With no understanding of how the internet works, or insight into the implications of any proposed changes, politicians are free to speak to perceived problems in general terms, and to propose legislation that will then be magically implemented by someone else.

The scenario is reminiscent of how the corporate managers of a company I worked at would make sweeping promises to client companies and governments about software that hadn’t even been discussed yet by the technical people. And once those promises had been turned into contractual obligations, the technical workers were ordered to do the impossible… or at least to make it appear that it had been done.

And of course, the managers would be sure to have left with their golden parachutes before the sham saw the light of day.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re:

Anything related to tech in the UK tends to fall in 2 categories – a Tory went to Eton or uni with someone who owns the company that would benefit from a juicy contract, or a Tory wants to go on a moral crusade against an easy scapegoat to detract from how badly they’re screwing up the fundamentals that lead to the real problems.

The former ends up in systems that don’t do what they’re intended to do but cost many millions (sometimes billions) over the projected budget, while the latter tend to collapse under their own weight as people rebel or the inevitable unintended consequences every expert warned about comes to pass.

Other parties can have their problems, but if a Tory tries addressing a problem related to tech, expect failure and start looking at who stands to profit or what they’re trying to distract from.

ECA (profile) says:

Politicians

After Much thought(not really), it comes to me that politicians dont like hearing from the constituents, those they are to represent.
And the internet is the Ultimate way to Find and locate your representatives and those you elected into office.
the only real problem we have is selecting or FINDing the correct persons to Bitch at.

Now I know why politicians DONT like the internet. Before, we had to find an address to send them letters.

Dyspeptic Curmudgeon says:

Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology...

Arthur C Clarke’s dictum: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte: “Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”

Grey’s Law: “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”

(eg. You think the DMV jobsworth is taking forever and making mistakes, just to annoy you.)

Newbury’s Law (of course, I named it after myself!) “Any sufficiently advanced malice is indistinguishable from incompetence.

Which is why GCHQ and the NSA always explain it was just an oversight and a mistake. And why the ‘fact-checkers’ are *never* wrong about misinformation.

And modern technology IS magic to the vast majority of the world. The vast majority have NO idea how a cellphone (aka mobile) works and could not explain it to save their life. Quick: how many RF transmitters and how many RF receivers does a top of the line cellphone have? Don’t forget GPS and NFC!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

imagine if you could only watch tv rated for 12 to 16 year old s unless you signed in to an online age verification system, also this is a direct attack on free speech in the uk, discussing certain subjects, like lgbt,trans rights issues , sexting, dating, hooking up online could be seen as Bad, the last thing the uk needs is a vague law that penalises free speech,
especially when the uk economy is suffering the effects of brexit.
no one expects casble tv 18 rated shows to be suitable for children, or uk tv broadcast after 9pm.its presume parents will supervise their childrens viewing

Anonymous Coward says:

An asside

Since encryption bans came up again, I feel this is worth mentioning:

Any broad encryption ban[1] will, eventually, result in law enforcement, national security, and other government agencies NOT having to work around encryption. That is these agencies will stop developing the skills, techniques, and technologies to help them cope with a world where not all information is readily available to them (AKA the real world… as it has always been). When a malicious actor takes advantage of this, to potentially catastrophic consequences, they will be unable to be forewarned. Even if modern investigative techniques (such as meta-data analysis) could have provided a warning. Additionally they will most likely be left reeling in the aftermath, trying to investigate a past tragedy using techniques that have been abandoned.

[1] Of course this is constrained to ones that are actually enforced.

TaboToka (profile) says:

Re:

Any broad encryption ban[1] will, eventually, result in failure law enforcement, national security, and other government agencies NOT having to work around encryption.

FTFY

Too many folks with the technical chops to understand the value of cryptography will also be able to use stenography to encrypt and hide their messages in random and sundry files (word docs, images, etc), and even 3D printed models

Naughty Autie says:

UK’s Likely Next Prime Minister Wants A Pony: A Magic Internet Where No One Ever Says Any Bad Things

Which is amongst the many reasons Tom Tugendhat would make a better Prime Minister than any of the other MPs he was up against. I suspect the reason he was voted out in the first round is he isn’t prejudiced against marginalised groups, especislly trans people and illegal immigrants.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s been a race to the bottom since Cameron decided the best way to stop the nutters taking over his party was to hold a non-binding referendum without any safeguards, then bailed and left the nutters running the show when a bare majority of the population were manipulated into voting for an unknown future to be determined by the worst in politics.

There’s been problems before, of course, but now we’re faced with a party that doesn’t get a real mandate in elections (but acts like they have one) intent on implementing the worst of imported identity politics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Is it too much to ask politicians to live in reality?

Singapore’s politicians have at least one foot in reality. And are proving that authoritarians and totalitarians are the ones that DO.

Is it too much to expect politicians to propose legislation as if they lived in reality?

Ah yes, like right now, where California is proposing to make the Internet worse in California, governments everywhere are following Singapore’s and China’s example of censoring the Internet, suing people who say things they don’t like (even in PRIVATE), “forcing” companies to bend the knee to THEIR totalitarian bullshit…

A politician’s definition of reality is vastly different from ours.

Anonymous Coward says:

The tory Party wants to sell off channel 4 a V channel free to view paid for by advertising, its very popular with alot of programs which feature minority lgbt groups . It costs the taxpayer nothing but provides 1000s of jobs to indendent TV producers to make new program formats not avaidable on other channels
The tory Party is proposing laws which benefit no one except to splinter off the uk Internet
and reduce the public right to free speech they simply don’t understand how the Web works
and how it’s the most democratic open platform for free speech and small creative artists

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

The tory Party is proposing laws which benefit no one except to splinter off the uk Internet and reduce the public right to free speech they simply don’t understand how the Web works and how it’s the most democratic open platform for free speech and small creative artists.

On the contrary, if UK politicians are at all like US ones it’s because they understand that about the internet that they want to cripple and/or control it as few things threaten the rich and powerful like the spread of information and creativity outside of their control.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re:

Well, no. Accounting for green cars (assuming you mean the colour) is a relatively easy use case that can be tested and accounted for accurately. Things on the internet will get very more complicated, unless you destroy its very foundations to ensure that only pre-approved corporate donors can set up the services on there (which I suspect is ultimately the goal).

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

You can’t say that

For far too long Society as a whole has been pushing for lingual pacification.

This is the ultimate end result. What ever happened to sticks and stones will break my bones: but words will never hurt me!

Rather than teaching kids et al that some people are dicks to be ignored, we look to ban what is said.
Be it prejudice or malice… come onnnn! Just move along already.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Dear AN

Dear anonymous coward #17
Please refrain from personal attacks.

If nothing else, I, the lost one, demand you stop abusing the term troll.
Seriously!

Trolling is an art form. I have respect for the efforts of actual trolls in the inter webs.
You are seriously devaluing that practice. All because you fail to live up to the great educated ability of your idols!

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