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Online Safety Bill


UK Government legislates to censor social media


 

Presumably the name Internet 'Safety' Bill was coined by Dominic Cummings...

Internet organisations write to MPs pointing how dangerous it will be for internet users to lose the protection of End to End Encryption for their communications


Link Here15th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

To Members of Parliament: end-to-end encryption keeps us safe

68 million of your constituents are at risk of losing the most important tool to keep them safe and protected from cyber-criminals and hostile governments.

End-to-end encryption means that your constituents' family photographs, messages to friends and family, financial information, and the commercially sensitive data of businesses up and down the country, can all be kept safe from harm's way. It also keeps us safer in a world where connected devices have physical effect: end-to-end encryption secures connected homes, cars and children's toys. The government should not be making those more vulnerable to attack. The draft Online Safety Bill contains clauses that could undermine and in some situations even prohibit the use of end-to-end encryption, meaning UK citizens will be less secure online than citizens of other democracies. British businesses operating online will have less protection for their data flows in London than in the United States or the European Union. Banning end-to-end encryption, or introducing requirements for companies to scan the content of our messages, will remove protections for private citizens and companies' data. We all need that protection, but children and members of at-risk communities need it most of all.

Don't leave them exposed.

With more people than ever before falling prey to criminals online, now is not the time for the UK to undertake a reckless policy experiment that puts its own citizens at greater risk. We, the undersigned, are calling on the Home Office to explain how it plans to protect the British public from criminals online when it is taking away the very tools that keep the public safe. If the draft Online Safety Bill aims to make us safer, end-to-end encryption should not be threatened or undermined by this legislation.

Sincerely, *Members of the Global Encryption Coalition

 

 

Age of miserableness...

Strident Scottish feminist MSP tables motion calling for the resurrection of failed UK law requiring age verification for porn


Link Here11th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Rhoda Grant is a campaigning MSP with a long and miserable history of calling for bans on sex work and lap dancing. She has now tabled a motion for consideration by the Scottish Parliament expressing concern the UK government's reported failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 seeking to impose age verification for porn but without any consideration for the dangers to porn users of having their personal data hacked or abused.

Grant's motion has received the backing of Labour and SNP MSPs and notes that a coalition of women's organisations, headteachers, children's charities and parliamentarians want the government to enforce Part 3 without further delay. Grant said:

How we keep our children safe online should be an absolute priority, so the failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is a terrible reflection on the UK government.

 

 

Lords of Dreams...

House of Lords Private Members Bills seek the restoration of failed age verification for porn and another that demands more perfect age assurance methods


Link Here9th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Members of the House of Lords are clamouring for more red tape and censorship in the name of protecting children from the dangers of the internet. Of course these people don't seem to give a shit about the safety of adults using the internet.

Maurice Morrow is attempting to revive the failed age verification for porn in his bill, Digital Economy Act 2017 (Commencement of Part 3) Bill [HL]. The original bill failed firstly because it failed to consider data protection for porn user's identity data. The original authors of the bill couldn't even be bothered to consider such security implications as porn users handing over identity data and porn browsing data directly to Russian porn sites, possibly acting as fronts for the Russian government dirty tricks dept.

Perhaps the bill also failed because the likes of GCHQ don't fancy half the porn using population of the UK using VPNs and Tor to work around age verification and ISP porn blocking.

See Morrow's bill progress from bills.parliament.uk and the bill text from bills.parliament.uk . The bill had its first reading on 9th June.

Meanwhile Beeban Kidron has proposed a bill demanding accurate age assurance. Age assurance is generally an attempt to determine age without the nightmare of dangerously handing over full identity identity data. Eg estimating the age of soical media users from the age of their friends.

See Kidron's bill progress from bills.parliament.uk and the bill text is at bill text from bills.parliament.uk . The bill had its first reading on 27th May

 

 

Offsite Article: OnlyFans pulled up by the BBC when youngsters fool age verification...


Link Here29th May 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Asking the interesting question for future age verification laws. In today's blame society who has to carry the can when people inevitably find ways to circumvent the system. Is it the user, the website, or the age verification service?

See article from bbc.co.uk

 

 

Updated: Censored comments...

Comments about the UK Government's new Internet Censorship Bill


Link Here26th May 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

Comment: Disastrous

11th May 2021. See article from bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

Mark Johnson, Legal and Policy Officer at Big Brother Watch said:

The Online Safety Bill introduces state-backed censorship and monitoring on a scale never seen before in a liberal democracy.

This Bill is disastrous for privacy rights and free expression online. The Government is clamping down on vague categories of lawful speech. This could easily result in the silencing of marginalised voices and unpopular views.

Parliament should remove lawful content from the scope of this Bill altogether and refocus on real policing rather than speech-policing.

Offsite Comment: Online safety bill: a messy new minefield in the culture wars

13th May 2021. See article from theguardian.com by Alex Hern

The message of the bill is simple: take down exactly the content the government wants taken down, and no more. Guess wrong and you could face swingeing fines. Keep guessing wrong and your senior managers could even go to jail.

Content moderation is a hard job, and it's about to get harder.

Offsite Comment: Harm Version 3.0

15th May 2021. See article from cyberleagle.com by Graham Smith

Two years on from the April 2019 Online Harms White Paper, the government has published its draft Online Safety Bill. It is a hefty beast: 133 pages and 141 sections. It raises a slew of questions, not least around press and journalistic material and the newly-coined content of democratic importance. Also, for the first time, the draft Bill spells out how the duty of care regime would apply to search engines, not just to user generated content sharing service providers.

This post offers first impressions of a central issue that started to take final shape in the government's December 2020 Full Response to consultation: the apparent conflict between imposing content monitoring and removal obligations on the one hand, and the government's oft-repeated commitment to freedom of expression on the other - now translated into express duties on service providers.

The draft Bill represents the government's third attempt at defining harm (if we include the White Paper, which set no limit). The scope of harm proposed in its second version (the Full Response) has now been significantly widened.

See article from cyberleagle.com

Offsite Comment: The unstoppable march of state censorship

17th May 2021. See article from spiked-online.com

Vaguely worded hate-speech laws can end up criminalising almost any opinion.

 

Offsite Comment: Drowning internet services in red tape

 18th May 2021. See article from techmonitor.ai by Laurie Clarke

The UK government has unveiled sprawling new legislation that takes aim at online speech on internet services 203 stretching from illegal to legal yet harmful content. The wide-ranging nature of the proposals could leave internet businesses large and small facing a huge bureaucratic burden, and render the bill impractical to implement.

 

 

Offsite Comment: UK online safety bill raises censorship concerns and questions on future of encryption

24th May 2021. See article from cpj.org

 

 

 

Offsite Comment: Why the online safety bill threatens our civil liberties

26th May 2021. See article from politics.co.uk by Heather Burns

With the recent publication of the draft online safety bill, the UK government has succeeded in uniting the British population in a way not seen since the weekly clap for the NHS. This time, however, no one is applauding. After two years of dangled promises, the government's roadmap to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online sets up a sweeping eradication of our personal privacy, our data security, and our civil liberties.

 

 

Unsafe legislation...

The Government publishes its draft Internet Censorship Bill


Link Here11th May 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

New internet laws will be published today in the draft Online Safety Bill to protect children online and tackle some of the worst abuses on social media, including racist hate crimes.

Ministers have added landmark new measures to the Bill to safeguard freedom of expression and democracy, ensuring necessary online protections do not lead to unnecessary censorship.

The draft Bill marks a milestone in the Government's fight to make the internet safe. Despite the fact that we are now using the internet more than ever, over three quarters of UK adults are concerned about going online, and fewer parents feel the benefits outweigh the risks of their children being online -- falling from 65 per cent in 2015 to 50 per cent in 2019.

The draft Bill includes changes to put an end to harmful practices, while ushering in a new era of accountability and protections for democratic debate, including:

  • New additions to strengthen people's rights to express themselves freely online, while protecting journalism and democratic political debate in the UK.

  • Further provisions to tackle prolific online scams such as romance fraud, which have seen people manipulated into sending money to fake identities on dating apps.

  • Social media sites, websites, apps and other services hosting user-generated content or allowing people to talk to others online must remove and limit the spread of illegal and harmful content such as child sexual abuse, terrorist material and suicide content.

  • Ofcom will be given the power to fine companies failing in a new duty of care up to 18 million or ten per cent of annual global turnover, whichever is higher, and have the power to block access to sites.

  • A new criminal offence for senior managers has been included as a deferred power. This could be introduced at a later date if tech firms don't step up their efforts to improve safety.

The draft Bill will be scrutinised by a joint committee of MPs before a final version is formally introduced to Parliament.

The following elements of the Bill aim to create the most progressive, fair and accountable system in the world. This comes only weeks after a boycott of social media by sports professionals and governing bodies in protest at the racist abuse of footballers online, while at the same time concerns continue to be raised at social media platforms arbitrarily removing content and blocking users.

Duty of care

In line with the government's response to the Online Harms White Paper , all companies in scope will have a duty of care towards their users so that what is unacceptable offline will also be unacceptable online.

They will need to consider the risks their sites may pose to the youngest and most vulnerable people and act to protect children from inappropriate content and harmful activity.

They will need to take robust action to tackle illegal abuse, including swift and effective action against hate crimes, harassment and threats directed at individuals and keep their promises to users about their standards.

The largest and most popular social media sites (Category 1 services) will need to act on content that is lawful but still harmful such as abuse that falls below the threshold of a criminal offence, encouragement of self-harm and mis/disinformation. Category 1 platforms will need to state explicitly in their terms and conditions how they will address these legal harms and Ofcom will hold them to account.

The draft Bill contains reserved powers for Ofcom to pursue criminal action against named senior managers whose companies do not comply with Ofcom's requests for information. These will be introduced if tech companies fail to live up to their new responsibilities. A review will take place at least two years after the new regulatory regime is fully operational.

The final legislation, when introduced to Parliament, will contain provisions that require companies to report child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) content identified on their services. This will ensure companies provide law enforcement with the high-quality information they need to safeguard victims and investigate offenders.

Freedom of expression

The Bill will ensure people in the UK can express themselves freely online and participate in pluralistic and robust debate.

All in-scope companies will need to consider and put in place safeguards for freedom of expression when fulfilling their duties. These safeguards will be set out by Ofcom in codes of practice but, for example, might include having human moderators take decisions in complex cases where context is important.

People using their services will need to have access to effective routes of appeal for content removed without good reason and companies must reinstate that content if it has been removed unfairly. Users will also be able to appeal to Ofcom and these complaints will form an essential part of Ofcom's horizon-scanning, research and enforcement activity.

Category 1 services will have additional duties. They will need to conduct and publish up-to-date assessments of their impact on freedom of expression and demonstrate they have taken steps to mitigate any adverse effects.

These measures remove the risk that online companies adopt restrictive measures or over-remove content in their efforts to meet their new online safety duties. An example of this could be AI moderation technologies falsely flagging innocuous content as harmful, such as satire.

Democratic content

Ministers have added new and specific duties to the Bill for Category 1 services to protect content defined as 'democratically important'. This will include content promoting or opposing government policy or a political party ahead of a vote in Parliament, election or referendum, or campaigning on a live political issue.

Companies will also be forbidden from discriminating against particular political viewpoints and will need to apply protections equally to a range of political opinions, no matter their affiliation. Policies to protect such content will need to be set out in clear and accessible terms and conditions and firms will need to stick to them or face enforcement action from Ofcom.

When moderating content, companies will need to take into account the political context around why the content is being shared and give it a high level of protection if it is democratically important.

For example, a major social media company may choose to prohibit all deadly or graphic violence. A campaign group could release violent footage to raise awareness about violence against a specific group. Given its importance to democratic debate, the company might choose to keep that content up, subject to warnings, but it would need to be upfront about the policy and ensure it is applied consistently.

Journalistic content

Content on news publishers' websites is not in scope. This includes both their own articles and user comments on these articles.

Articles by recognised news publishers shared on in-scope services will be exempted and Category 1 companies will now have a statutory duty to safeguard UK users' access to journalistic content shared on their platforms.

This means they will have to consider the importance of journalism when undertaking content moderation, have a fast-track appeals process for journalists' removed content, and will be held to account by Ofcom for the arbitrary removal of journalistic content. Citizen journalists' content will have the same protections as professional journalists' content.

Online fraud

Measures to tackle user-generated fraud will be included in the Bill. It will mean online companies will, for the first time, have to take responsibility for tackling fraudulent user-generated content, such as posts on social media, on their platforms. This includes romance scams and fake investment opportunities posted by users on Facebook groups or sent via Snapchat.

Romance fraud occurs when a victim is tricked into thinking that they are striking up a relationship with someone, often through an online dating website or app, when in fact this is a fraudster who will seek money or personal information.

Analysis by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau found in 2019/20 there were 5,727 instances of romance fraud in the UK (up 18 per cent year on year). Losses totalled more than 60 million.

Fraud via advertising, emails or cloned websites will not be in scope because the Bill focuses on harm committed through user-generated content.

The Government is working closely with industry, regulators and consumer groups to consider additional legislative and non-legislative solutions. The Home Office will publish a Fraud Action Plan after the 2021 spending review and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will consult on online advertising, including the role it can play in enabling online fraud, later this year.




 

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