How to fend off automated censorship

27 June 2019 — Open Rights Group

You have until Monday 1 July to make you views known!

The Internet in general and social media in particular play a central role in protecting free expression in society. But the Government’s new plan to make social media safer could change that by ushering in a new era of automated censorship.

The window to comment on the Government’s Online Harms White Paper closes on Monday.  William can you take a minute to tell the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that social media regulation must protect the right to free expression?

To comply with the new plan, Internet companies will have little choice but to scan all user content with automated systems that remove offending items. Legal speech will inevitably be caught in the crossfire.

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve just been through it with the EU Copyright Directive earlier this year. The only difference is this time the algorithms will be setting their sights on “harmful content” instead of copyrighted material.

Open Rights Group (ORG) has laid out a better, rights-based approachto combating online harms – one that ensures companies remove strictly illegal or unlawful content while protecting personal data from exploitative digital advertising.

By contrast, the Government’s risk-based model could ultimately leave us with an unelected state regulator who has the power to define acceptable speech. These plans are well meaning, and trying to address a real concern, but could easily slide into unjustifiable, automated censorship of legal speech.

Take a stand against digital censorship today by telling the DCMS to ditch their current model in favour of ensuring a digital environment that protects basic rights.

Thank you for protecting UK rights online.

Jim Killock
Executive Director
Open Rights Group

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