White paper will harm free speech and the press online

In light of the government’s online harm white paper deatils being leaked to the Guardian yesterday, Matthew Lesh speaks out on what makes it such a chilling report for free speech, our free press and competition in tech:

“The proposals are a historic attack on freedom of speech and the free press, the very core of Britain's liberal democratic foundations. At a time when Britain is criticising violations of freedom of expression in states like Iran, China and Russia, we should not be undermining our freedom at home.

"Britain will no longer be called a free society if her citizens and her press are directed by Government as to what they can view, think and say.

“Websites must already remove illegal content, and are careful to do in a timely manner. This new regulatory system, by placing legal liability on platforms, will force platforms to censor a wide array of new material.

“This will turn into a form of press regulation by the back door. This isn’t just about big social media players. It’ll impact any website with user comments, including web forums like Mumsnet, online retailers like Amazon, travel websites like TripAdvisor, and even news websites.

“These new regulations will mean no new competitors challenging the social media giants. Large companies like Facebook have the scale and monetary resources to implement automated censorship systems and employ thousands of moderators. It’s the newer, small to medium size websites that will struggle to handle the red tape.”

These comments will be updated in due course when the full paper is released on Monday. In the meantime if you would like to arrange an interview with Matthew Lesh or another member of the Adam Smith Institute please contact Matt Kilcoyne on 07904099599 or email matt@adamsmith.org