‘Online Safety’ Headed for U.S.?

Some mornings, it doesn’t take a cup of coffee to bring me to wide awake. I skim some online news and if a headline really interests me, I’ll go ahead and read the story. I probably won’t need anymore coffee for a while, if ever because while many of us write and speak about freedom of speech on the Internet, government is working directly against us.

So, okay, this is the U.K. and no one is really surprosed are they? This is the country that has police monitoring social media for infractions against the common good. People have been arrested for hurting other’s feelings. The social media platforms themselves, who swear they only provide a facility for users to post their thoughts and opinions are defacto censors because they decide what content posted is acceptable to “the community”(of users). they have become no different that The Washington Post, The New York Times, or the daily newspaper in yout town. They are publishers of content which makes them responsible for that content and that’s why newspapers and magazines as well as media companies may be held legally responsible for what they publish.

Now, if this passes in Britain, these samw providers, at least in the U.K. to begin with will face a different set of obligations:

The Online Safety Bill will change all this. The basic idea is that editorial responsibility for material generated by internet users will be imposed on all online platforms: social media and search engines. They will have a duty to ‘mitigate and manage the risks of harm to individuals’ arising from internet use.

Imagine your search engine or your service provider being responsible for the content provided when you type in a (n innocent) query? What the user defines as not harmful the provider may have to adjudicate differently. And knowing how government works (heh), it looks like the rules imposed on providers will have to add a new category of content, Harmful, which is not defined ion the bill as currently written. Who determines this? Well the government will have to give some guidance to the providers so that now, officially, providers will become an arm of the government.

Once this is enacted, and it probably will because it’s supported by the Conservatives in the U’K., it won;t be long until someone on our side of the Atlantic decides this might be a good idea to implement in the U.S.

For years, our representatives in Washington have heard the complaints from their constituents about how social media platforms censor certain groups and that search providers can actually impose algorithmic suppression of content they decide is “misinformation” or “disinformation” (See: 2020 election (Hunter Biden Laptop story by NY Post), and the 2020-2021 pandemic (various publishers). so, already, we’re not far behinf the U.L., we just haven’t codified anything into law. Yet.

Let’s see how long it takes someone to introduce a similar bill in the U.S. Congress (after the midterms, of course). Several of these politicians have been talking about regulating or breaking up some of these companies to make them less powerful. In a way, this bill would do just that because all of the power wpiuld be placed in the hands if the government. Watch this space…or maybe not if the bill becomes law here.

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