Beware The Rise Of Censorship Under The Guise Of Stopping Fake News: UK Regulators Push For Dangerous Plan

from the fake-news dept

When we last checked in with UK Parliament Member Damian Collins, he was creating fake news at a hearing he set up to scold Facebook for enabling fake news. If you don't recall, Collins held a very theatrical hearing, in which his big reveal was that Facebook had actually become aware of Russians hacking its API with billions of questionable requests back in 2014, years before anyone thought they were doing anything. Except, as became clear hours later, Collins completely misrepresented what actually happened. It wasn't Russians. It was Pinterest. And it wasn't billions of requests for data. It was millions. And it wasn't abusive or hacking. It was something going a little haywire on Pinterest's end. But, to Collins it was a smoking gun.

It appears that that little incident has not deterred Collins from his war on Facebook, in which he's using moral panic and fear mongering over "fake news" to try to censor content he doesn't like. Recently, Collins' committee -- the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee -- published its big report on fake news, in which it calls for new regulatory powers to "oversee" what content goes on sites like Facebook. With the report, Collins put out quite the bombastic comment about all of this. Here's just a snippet:

“We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people. The age of inadequate self regulation must come to an end. The rights of the citizen need to be established in statute, by requiring the tech companies to adhere to a code of conduct written into law by Parliament, and overseen by an independent regulator."

There are all sorts of sketchy and dangerous ideas in this report, but I want to focus on the one that is most scary. A plan to regulate the amorphous concept of "harmful content."

The Report repeats a recommendation from the Interim Report for clear legal liabilities to be established for tech companies to act against harmful or illegal content on their sites, and the report calls for a compulsory Code of Ethics defining what constitutes harmful content. An independent regulator should be responsible for monitoring tech companies, backed by statutory powers to launch legal action against companies in breach of the code.

Companies failing obligations on harmful or illegal content would face hefty fines. MPs conclude: “Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a ‘platform’ and maintain that they have no responsibility themselves in regulating the content of their sites.”

It's notable that this says "harmful or illegal content," as it's an explicit recognition that what it considers "harmful" content might actually be perfectly legal. Except, apparently, it might be illegal for an internet company to host it. This is going to lead to serious problems.

Already, free speech experts are quite reasonably worried about this report. Index on Censorship posted a note warning how this will almost certainly be abused.

Despite a number of reports, including the government’s Internet Safety Strategy green paper, that have examined the issue over the past year, none have yet been able to come up with a definition of harmful content that goes beyond definitions of speech and expression that are already illegal. DCMS recognises this in its report when it quotes the Secretary of State Jeremy Wright discussing “the difficulties surrounding the definition.” Despite acknowledging this, the report’s authors nevertheless expect “technical experts” to be able to set out “what constitutes harmful content” that will be overseen by an independent regulator.

International experience shows that in practice it is extremely difficult to define harmful content in such a way that would target only “bad speech”. Last year, for example, activists in Vietnam wrote an open letter to Facebook complaining that Facebook’s system of automatically pulling content if enough people complained could “silence human rights activists and citizen journalists in Vietnam”, while Facebook has shut down the livestreams of people in the United States using the platform as a tool to document their experiences of police violence.

“It is vital that any new system created for regulating social media protects freedom of expression, rather than introducing new restrictions on speech by the back door,” said Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg. “We already have laws to deal with harassment, incitement to violence, and incitement to hatred. Even well-intentioned laws meant to tackle hateful views online often end up hurting the minority groups they are meant to protect, stifle public debate, and limit the public’s ability to hold the powerful to account.”

Somehow, it seems quite unlikely that Collins has any interest in paying attention. He has made it clear from early on that he's mad at Facebook, and no one's concerns about how his anger might lead to very, very bad policy that stifles free expression way beyond Facebook is going to make the slightest bit of difference apparently.

Index on Censorship also highlights the odd metrics used in Collins report -- such as pointing to a vast increase in the number of moderators Facebook has hired in Germany after its joke of a hate speech law went into effect. After pointing out problems with that law, it notes:

“The existence of more moderators is not evidence that the laws work,” said Ginsberg. “Evidence would be if more harmful content had been removed and if lawful speech flourished. Given that there is no effective mechanism for challenging decisions made by operators, it is impossible to tell how much lawful content is being removed in Germany. But the fact that Russia, Singapore and the Philippines have all cited the German law as a positive example of ways to restrict content online should give us pause.”

It appears clear that it will not give Damian Collins pause, because he's on a mission to grandstand against Facebook as much as he can, even if it means widespread censorship is the result.

Filed Under: damian collins, fake news, free speech, harmful content, regulations, social media, uk


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 11:43am

    Now, for the big question:

    Will they call it the Ministry of Love, or the Ministry of Truth?

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    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 1:03pm

      Re: Now, for the big question:

      Will they call it the Ministry of Love, or the Ministry of Truth?

      Ministry of Magic since they will have to pull a reasonable, workable definition of "harmful content" out of thin air that covers speech that is currently legal.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 5:37pm

        Re: Re: Now, for the big question:

        Nah, that's what 'nerd harder' is for, just make vague proclamations about how it's 'obvious'; if the tech companies actually tried they'll be able to come up with a workable definition, and if they can't well then obviously they aren't trying hard enough.

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    • icon
      wereisjessicahyde (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 4:32pm

      Re: Now, for the big question:

      Actually in the UK the Dept for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is often jokingly called the 'Ministry of Fun'

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 9:56am

      Re: Now, for the big question:

      Call it the ministry of the big brother.

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 12:13pm

    Even well-intentioned laws meant to tackle hateful views online often end up hurting the minority groups they are meant to protect, stifle public debate, and limit the public’s ability to hold the powerful to account.

    Those first few are valid points, but the last one feels like doublespeak. Laws created to help "hold the powerful to account" will limit the public's ability to do so?

    The only way that makes any sense is if you're coming at it from a twisted viewpoint in which "the powerful" only means government entities and does not apply to any other form of easily- and frequently-abused power, such as the corporate variety.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 12:47pm

      Re:

      The laws weren't created to hold the powerful to account - and even if they were it would still hold for balance of power reasons.

      A law that made media companies over a certain size "accountable" to the president would technically do both - making large media companies (powerful) able to be held to account while making it harder to hold the President (powerful) to account .

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 12:53pm

        Re: Re:

        But laws like this don't make them accountable to the President; they make them accountable to the people, by way of the courts.

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        • icon
          Gwiz (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 1:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          But laws like this don't make them accountable to the President; they make them accountable to the people, by way of the courts.

          But THIS laws seems to make the platforms accountable to an "independent regulator" who, in actual practice, will be loyal to those who sign his paycheck.

          Much the same way that "independent arbitrators" in contract disputes side with the company paying the arbitrator in something like 97% of the cases.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 1:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The best arbitration is to have three arbitrators: one from each side, and a third picked by the first two.

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        • icon
          Igualmente69 (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 2:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Based on what principle? The content isn't illegal, by definition, so who will decide the standard? Content that is harmful to who? Also, how can courts have jurisdiction over non-illegal content in the first place?

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    • identicon
      Qwertygiy, 26 Feb 2019 @ 3:55pm

      Re:

      Suppressing the ability to speak freely is the easiest way to suppress the ability to speak inconvenient truths.

      To twist Uncle Ben's old hackneyed phrase, with any form of power comes the opportunity to misuse that power. Teachers can unfairly grade students -- power of parent. Salesmen can make misleading but factual claims about their products -- power of persuasion. Mobs can rage on and destroy innocent property -- power in numbers. Police officers can wrongly arrest someone -- power of authority. Politicians can alter laws as they please -- power of legislation. The rich can lobby for laws (and politicians) that benefit themselves -- power of money.

      This would be giving someone the power to decide what speech should be banned, in as specific or as broad terms as they like. That's the first angle of corruption I see: just as it has been with the terrors of Article 13, lobby hard enough at the people defining the term that they give you enough room to make it illegal to do that one certain thing you don't like because it might hurt your profits, or reputation.

      The second angle of corruption, which would last much longer, is in the same trolling we see in trademark and copyright disputes today. Target someone who doesn't have many resources at their disposal, and threaten to sue them over hate speech over something they've said. Some will stand up for their rights, others can't afford the time and money to fight it, others will be scared off by the risk they face if they challenge it and lose. For Grimy Grinch Co., it's a win-win -- they make some nice settlement money, and there's less people willing to complain about how awful it is they're repossessing everyone's presents.

      The third angle of corruption would be of the same nature we have been seeing en masse with existing libel, slander, and gag orders since the election cycle began. Can't stand someone? Find something they've said, and on the off chance that you can't find anything disgusting enough as-is, strip it of context, or apply facetious context, or even (gasp) make it up. Even if your case gets shot down before it starts and you don't actually get to take them to court for their "hate speech", if you're sufficiently powerful, you've gotten people riled up about your target, probably gotten their actual speech suppressed, and even possibly gotten them arrested. This method of abuse of power is less direct than the two previous ones; it's more that it gives a wonderful surplus of extra ammunition to those who already use this tactic to degrade their enemies, and makes easy to send dissenter to gulag.

      The fourth angle of corruption would be the same as we see with DMCA complaints. Report website for containing hate speech, get website taken down, perhaps make website owner have to fight (often long and costly) to get his website back online, or worse, depending on how bad these hate speech penalties are. Facebook is mentioned in the article as allowing a form of this through mass reports, and in the past I recall YouTube would do the same, taking down a video that reached a threshold of reports without ever reviewing it.

      The fifth angle of corruption would be the same as we saw with FCC complaints, and the Russian troll farms, and a few of the celebrity scandals of late, let alone in warfare since time immemorial: the false flag. Impersonate someone, say nasty things with their mouth. Hack their accounts, or make a convincing imposter. Get them in hot water for what you've said, put them under a microscope. Maybe you're good enough to be a Duke Lacrosse rape victim instead of a Jussie Smollett.

      These are the five biggest methods in which I can envision the powerful taking advantage of the weak this way. They are not new ways, but merely the ways that are made easier to abuse and harder to defend against.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 12:27pm

    Always ask who decides fake news, hate speech, or whatever the metric for silencing voices.

    Fun example coming out of France this week. Macron proposed those committing hate speech banned forever from the internet. What is hate speech in this case? Anything critical of Macron's ever more totalitarian rule?

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    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 12:39pm

      Re:

      Remember this rule of thumb: any definition given by a specific individual or group of "hate speech" (or similar things such as "hate crimes," "hate groups," etc) can be best understood by prefixing the term with "I-" or "we-".

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 1:28pm

    So governments are now doing exactly what internet users doing by censoring their platforms, bullying, ganging up on people they don't like, etc.

    Not much difference between the government acting as protector of the people and those who must "protect" those poor, stupid "newbies" by warning them about "known trolls" etc.

    We have the government we deserve. Logic has gone out the window at every level. Intelligence is losing badly to emotion and muscle.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 1:30pm

    I'd rather see no new laws, and more people getting calls from police when they start aggressing against someone for an extended period of time (evidence of stalking).

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 2:58pm

    He has no power. He only thinks he does. He does not understand how the internet works let alone the platforms on it. So anything he does is doomed to failure by design.

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  • identicon
    Glenn, 26 Feb 2019 @ 3:19pm

    Yep, more fake news from the people in govt. complaining about fake news. Well, they'll just keep on fakin' it like they always have.

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  • identicon
    Michael Riendeau, 26 Feb 2019 @ 4:43pm

    It's not about copyright, fake news, or Google...

    It's about YOU, peasant!

    It can't be a coincidence that so many countries around the world, especially in the West, seem to be trying to develop China-level censorship on the Internet. All these claims of fighting piracy, stopping fake news, and punishing Google is all window dressing hiding a hateful vendetta they have against us! The internet gives the people power to challenge the status quo of Corporations and Authoritarians calling the shots. So to end the people's opposition, the powers that be are attempting to pull the plug on the internet in various ways to limit free speech and expression, crack down on dissent, and end the information age that has empowered us for over a decade.

    Call me a conspiracy theorist, but everything they are doing just makes more logical sense when see these ass wipes as evil people out to ruin our lives by means of censorship and Corporate control.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 6:48pm

      Re: It's not about copyright, fake news, or Google...

      I think every free thinking individual should support free speech. I think suppressing speech should be considered with disdain and condemnation. I think the mechanism of hiding speech on this web site is disgusting and should be first condemned and then eliminated. You are wrong to hide speech, and you are advocating for a totalitarian world by doing so.

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 8:23pm

    Censorship by False Delegation

    You might remember reading about the Salem Witch Hunts in some teenage history lesson, if you are an American. American Society at that time delegated the power of life and death to small groups of people, who then formed mobs and murdered many, with those not participating cowed into silence. Much later in time, publicly shamed by their outrageous behavior as they began to turn on each other, American Society formed laws regarding Due Process. Anyone who studied this history understands the consequences of delegating power to angry mobs.

    This brings to mind exactly what happens on this site - there is a false delegation of censorship power to the "community", and those who don't participate in this farce are attacked relentless and in a manner disgusting enough to force them to flee.

    You would be a better site if you stopped censoring dissenters and stopped feeding the mob hatred that runs rampant here.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 26 Feb 2019 @ 8:32pm

      Burning people alive equivalent to hiding comments, seems fair

      Boy, it just kills you that words and actions have consequences, even trivial ones, and that people are able to flag your comments as dishonest/absurd/trollish and have them hidden, doesn't it?

      Enjoy the funny and the flag votes.

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      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 10:05pm

        Re: Burning people alive equivalent to hiding comments, seems fa

        But even you would admit that “hiding comments” is censorship by delegation, right? Techdirt has the actual power to hide or not hide comments, but delegates this power to the “community” (mob), or says it does anyway. Personally, I think it’s a 100% sham and you are a part of it.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 1:10am

          Re: Re: Burning people alive equivalent to hiding comments, seem

          Censorship would be removal of your contents, flagging is the equivalent of giving them an adult rating.

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          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 5:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Burning people alive equivalent to hiding comments,

            Only someone intent on censoring someone else creates such meaningless distinctions. Hiding someone's message is censoring. False delegation protects the censor, who can hide behind "the community (mob)".

            Plainly Techdirt has control of the censorship policy here, but falsely claims the "community" is in control, without ever revealing a single bit of evidence to back up the claim.

            This is Corporate Authoritarianism in the false guise of supporting a "community". Everyone who has ever followed this site for more than a day knows it.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 6:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Burning people alive equivalent to hiding commen

              Only someone intent on censoring someone else creates such meaningless distinctions.

              Only someone who is butt hurt and has an axe to grind because nobody else has decided to reject reality like he has thinks that there ISN'T a distinction between the two.

              Hiding someone's message is censoring.

              No, it's not. It's hiding it so that you don't have to see it. Censoring someone is preventing them from being heard, no one is doing that here, since all you have to do is click "show comment". Censoring would be deleting your posts entirely so that no one even knew you said anything. It's no different than using an adblocker or a spam filter in your email. It doesn't prevent those ads and spam emails from going out, but it does prevent you from seeing it. It's not censorship.

              Plainly Techdirt has control of the censorship policy here, but falsely claims the "community" is in control, without ever revealing a single bit of evidence to back up the claim.

              Asserts facts not in evidence, considering I just clicked the "flag this post" button on your post.

              This is Corporate Authoritarianism in the false guise of supporting a "community".

              No, it's not. There are plenty of instances of similar "delegations to the community" that are just good practice and community engagement. TD is not alone in this regard.

              Everyone who has ever followed this site for more than a day knows it.

              No, it's literally just you. Otherwise there would be more commenters complaining about it than literally just you. Instead, most commenters here take the time to explain this concept to you over and over again.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 27 Feb 2019 @ 8:02am

          Re: Re: Burning people alive equivalent to hiding comments, seem

          "But even you would admit that “hiding comments” is censorship by delegation, right? "

          No more than people telling the cinema manager to kick out the disruptive idiot who keeps talking on his phone during the movie is censorship. Except in this case you're not even kicked out.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2019 @ 10:10pm

        Re: Burning people alive equivalent to hiding comments, seems fa

        A lot of witches were drowned or stoned, burning was not the only option.

        And "no", it doesn't "kill me" at all to have my comments censored, I rather enjoy it. It reminds me of my grandfather patiently teaching me the lessons of history while I debated the stupid side of the argument (yours). Of course, I was a young child at the time. On the other hand, maybe you are too.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 12:27am

          Re: Re: Burning people alive equivalent to hiding comments, seem

          Yes it does. Otherwise you wouldn’t cry about it nonstop. Too bad gramps died before he could teach you personal responsibility.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 12:26am

      Re: Liars gonna lie

      Wow you done emptied the barn of straw so you had to dig up some four century dead witches to make your dumb ass point.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 6:18am

      Re: Censorship by False Delegation

      You are aware that there is a massive difference between murder of an innocent human being based on baseless accusations of having magical powers, and non-permanently collapsing comments based on factual claims of lying, abuse, spam, and personal preference, so that they aren't forced to see it and/or mark it as unpopular or incorrect for others, right?

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 6:23am

        Re: Re: Censorship by False Delegation

        I would concede that there is a difference if you can concede that there is a similarity.

        Consider the plight of individuals that actually work in the Media business, for example, Roseanne Barr. She was fired from her work and became unemployable because of a perfectly legal comment that she made. She lost her job, her income, and future opportunities.

        Maybe drowning her would have been more merciful.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 6:51am

          Re: Re: Re: Censorship by False Delegation

          I would concede that there is a difference if you can concede that there is a similarity.

          I was about to, until I reviewed the history on the Salem Witch Trials. In fact, the community was not delegated power or authority to do anything. The accused in question were brought before legal authorities and a "trial" was held to determine if they were a witch or not. If pronounced guilty, the punishment was death and the authorities proceeded to facilitate and oversee the execution.

          That is COMPLETELY different than here where TD offers an open forum to discuss but allows people to flag comments for bad behavior and/or false information. And those flagged comments aren't "killed" either, they are just collapsed and marked as flagged but people are completely free to expand them and read them if they wish. No one is censoring your stupidity, it's on full display for all to see if they wish. Just because people don't want to see your stupidity, doesn't mean they are censoring you.

          Consider the plight of individuals that actually work in the Media business, for example, Roseanne Barr. She was fired from her work and became unemployable because of a perfectly legal comment that she made.

          That is not even remotely the same thing. You are comparing a private industry that can legally choose to hire or fire someone based on their conduct to an open forum discussion. There is no similarity or common ground between the too. The comment may have been legal, but it was incredibly offensive and employers are not legally required to hire people who say offensive things.

          She lost her job, her income, and future opportunities.

          No, she lost her current job and at least some of her income. She may not have future opportunities with that specific employer, but others in the industry may be willing to hire her, and she certainly could find work somewhere else, even if she has to change her vocation.

          Maybe drowning her would have been more merciful.

          Oh yes, because death by murder is VASTLY preferable to losing your current job. Stop being overly melodramatic.

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 7:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Censorship by False Delegation

            You are defending Corporate Authoritarianism, the example at hand is a corporation (actually an Industry) controlling the free speech of (apparently) ALL it's employees. Speech control is OK with you, I guess. Unless it's YOUR speech, of course, which I can silence at MY whim. Then you wouldn't like it.

            Have you seen Rosanne? She got really hurt by this. She said she was sorry. You want to defend what happened to her? Do you want her to wear a star marking her as a "non-conformist", so she can't be hired or heard from again? Was her speech (her speech!) really so offensive that she deserved this? What are the bounds and limits to this kind of punishment? Does anyone even know?

            In what weird authoritarian world do you see yourself? Are you even sure what you CAN and CANNOT say without being fired?

            Is anyone here sure what they CAN or CANNOT say without being censored (hidden)?

            This is the world you wish for? And defend?

            Free speech is a beautiful thing. Promote it, protect it, or lose it. That's the lesson from history.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 7:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Censorship by False Delegation

              You are defending Corporate Authoritarianism, the example at hand is a corporation (actually an Industry) controlling the free speech of (apparently) ALL it's employees.

              No. It's a corporation saying "If you want to work for us, don't be a dick.". There is nothing wrong with that.

              Speech control is OK with you, I guess.

              Well I guess that depends on where and under what circumstances "speech control" is engaged in. If it's in my house and I don't like what you're saying, you bet your ass I'm going to control your speech and toss you out on the street. That is my legal and constitutionally protected right. The same goes for corporations. With some exceptions, those corporations have the legal right to set certain behavioral guidelines and terms of employment. Not saying offensive statements that degrade and insult an entire subset of the population is perfectly within their legal and constitutional purview.

              What's not ok is telling people what they can and can't say PERIOD. Which is not what is happening in any of these examples.

              Unless it's YOUR speech, of course, which I can silence at MY whim. Then you wouldn't like it.

              Again, that depends on the location and situation. If it's in your house or private property, that's absolutely your right and I'm not going to get butt hurt over it like you do.

              Have you seen Rosanne? She got really hurt by this.

              Cry me a river. She said some pretty hateful things that she KNEW were not going to go over well and she said them anyway.

              She said she was sorry.

              I can say I have superpowers, that doesn't make it true.

              You want to defend what happened to her?

              As far as was the industry/corporation within their rights to do so? Abso-freaking-lutely. Was the response appropriate to the offense? We can debate that and I'm open to people growing some thicker skins in some cases but ultimately that's irrelevant to the debate at hand.

              Do you want her to wear a star marking her as a "non-conformist", so she can't be hired

              Strawman. I did not say this or anywhere close to imply this.

              or heard from again?

              Strawman. But what are you suggesting? That she be kidnapped and imprisoned, maybe even put to death? And you call me extreme.

              Was her speech (her speech!) really so offensive that she deserved this?

              Deserved? Maybe maybe not, again, that's a different discussion. But the corporation/industry was completely within their rights to take the action they did.

              What are the bounds and limits to this kind of punishment? Does anyone even know?

              What? I have no idea what you are even trying to suggest here.

              In what weird authoritarian world do you see yourself?

              None. But I don't expect you to understand that.

              Are you even sure what you CAN and CANNOT say without being fired?

              When on the job? Oh yes, I'm 100% sure what will get me fired and what will not. In private? Nothing I say will get my fired. If act in an offensive way in public and my employer finds out and doesn't want to employ me anymore? Yeah, I know what would get me fired there too.

              Is anyone here sure what they CAN or CANNOT say without being censored (hidden)?

              No, but why does that matter? And again, it's not censoring.

              This is the world you wish for? And defend?

              Yes. Because in your world, you would force people to associate with people who are offensive to them or be forced to allow someone to verbally abuse you in the privacy of your own home. No thanks. In my world, people are free to do as they wish within the bounds of their private property. There should never be laws protecting people from social consequences of bad behavior.

              Free speech is a beautiful thing. Promote it, protect it, or lose it. That's the lesson from history.

              What you want is not free speech. What you want is forced speech. Forcing people to listen to things they don't want to. That's not freedom, that is real authoritarianism and propaganda.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 27 Feb 2019 @ 8:16am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Censorship by False Delegation

              "She said she was sorry"

              Martin Shkreli said he was sorry as he was being sentenced. That doesn't mean he should get to be in a position to defraud investors and impose life sentences on people who can't afford medicine again.

              "Do you want her to wear a star marking her as a "non-conformist", so she can't be hired or heard from again?"

              Funny how you'd choose holocaust imagery to defend a woman who thinks this is innocent joking:

              https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/did-roseanne-pose-as-adolf-hitler-photo-shoot/

              Doing stupid shit and whining about facing consequences for her actions is not a new experience for her.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 27 Feb 2019 @ 8:10am

          Re: Re: Re: Censorship by False Delegation

          "She was fired from her work and became unemployable because of a perfectly legal comment that she made."

          It's legal for me to go on Facebook and call my boss a child rapist. It's also legal for me to stand outside my place of employment and hold a sign protesting the industry the operate within. I doubt I'd keep my job either way, however.

          Actions have consequences, and people like Roseanne have TV shows because they attract audiences and advertisers. She was fired because she started to lose those for her employers.. Legal != acceptable or moral.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 1:58am

    We must DO something!

    (Waving fist) "We need to make some laws to stop the bad people from doing bad things!"

    (Nodding wisely) "Lets get the technical people to solve it."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 6:27am

      Re: We must DO something!

      Lawmakers should consider the probable effects of their proposed law as written: whether the proposed law is likely to have the intended effect, in the real world, and what unintended effects it is likely to have, in the real world.

      Lawmakers should actively look for relevant information to make such a determination, and the law should be accompanied with a statement on what information was deemed relevant and why/why not. There is too much talk about good intentions and too little about probable actual effects.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 5:53am

    I didn't see this reported on Techdirt, or anywhere other than The Register actually, but the UK has now approved the 15-year jail time for viewing terrorist content and is now awaiting royal assent.

    The sad thing is, it's now "if you view it only once -even by accdident - off to jail you go."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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