I hope our press will remain this passionate about freedom of expression
British newspapers have been united behind the cause of free speech and freedom of expression like never before. Many journalists are rightfully angry about the prospect of ill-judged legislation impacting the way they do their jobs. Worst of all, they feel that politicians are actively setting up a system that is designed to restrict their ability to expose corruption and hold power to account.
The way they feel today must be almost exactly the same as people who work on the web have felt about a series of legislative threats to the way the Internet works. So I have one very positive hope from today’s Parliamentary actions on press regulation.
That next time a Government in the UK is proposing to restrict the internet in the name of security, or “protecting children” or “fighting piracy”, instead of blindly accepting the state’s spin about needing to control mass communications, our press recognise that:
- A “Three strikes and out” policy at the behest of broadcasters, publishers and content owners is a disproportionate punishment excluding whole households from vital digital services.
- Sanctioning “fishing” through a sea of electronic communications on the chance it will help catch criminals is akin to sanctioning random phone-tapping.
- Putting “filters” on incoming web traffic is a blunt tool whose inevitable false positives will deprive teenagers of valuable support and educational resources about sexual health and sexuality.
- Statutory powers can be extended again and again, and used in the future in harmful ways in which the original legislators never intended.
I hope after today that our press will oppose Government moves to restrict freedom of expression for the people with the vigour they have been defending their own.
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