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Big tech’s ironic defense against regulation: it would kill free speech

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Big Tech is fighting back as governments continue to look for ways to put the screws on them.

That’s the essence of a new chapter in this battle of the titans which, although declaratively revolving around such things as rights, freedoms, and privacy, in the end, has little to do with ordinary users and their interests.

As fintech website writes, citing the Financial Times, the Washington-based Internet Association (IA) is opposed to UK’s planned “online harms” measures.

The British government would like tech giants to censor content on their platforms even if it isn’t illegal. The content to be targeted in this way goes from “cyberbullying” via “disinformation” all the way to “terrorist propaganda.” And these companies would be required to accomplish this by means of “reasonable and proportionate action.”

That’s too broad – say IA members Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, as they are launching their lobbying efforts against the measures.

Ironically, some, if not all of these companies are already putting rules in place suspiciously similar to what the “online harms” white paper proposes. For instance, they are removing content and banning users who have not even violated their own terms of service.

Under the planned British rules, and for some added irony, Big Tech firms would also stand not only to lose money through fines – but could end up being “banned.”

The IA is arguing that its members must be allowed to continue as platforms for third-party content, rather than liable publishers – in other words, that the “intermediary liability protections” they now enjoy must be guaranteed going forward.

More than that – the IA says these companies simply wouldn’t know how to implement such vague rules.

To support its stance, the association is warning that online platforms might end up “over-censoring,” and is pushing for “a full regulation impact assessment to investigate the economic impact of the rules, and on privacy and freedom of expression.”

Such is the confusion currently witnessed in the digital world that even some rights and privacy groups, who normally butt heads with Big Tech, agree.

Amy Shepherd of UK’s Open Rights Group is quoted as saying that the proposed measures, the way they are designed, might produce government censorship of free speech of citizens.

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

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