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UK Conservatives Vow To Protect Free Speech, Days After Passing Online Censorship Law

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

It seems the UK’s Conservative Party would like to sit on two chairs when it comes to some key, and very controversial policies – at once appearing to support people’s right to free speech, but then also actively undermining it.

Case in point: while apparently determined to stop the practice of “debanking” UK citizens just because of their publicly expressed political views, the Conservative government is also passing legislation such as the Online Safety Bill, widely criticized as anti-free speech.

On Monday, the country’s Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt announced that banks would have to, going forward, adhere to more strict rules that would prevent them from cutting off customers from services and closing their accounts purely based on these people’s politics.

It was former member of European Parliament and prominent British politician Nigel Farage whose case brought a lot of media attention to the “debanking” practice (= the first cousin of other censorship tools, particularly demonetizing on social platforms.)

During the Conservatives conference in Manchester, Hunt stated that his party’s position is that, “nobody should have their bank account closed because somebody else decides they’re not politically correct.”

At the same time, the minister promised to “tighten” the law which is currently apparently loose enough, in terms of being fit for a true democracy, to allow for such behavior in the first place.

The apparent deadline for these changes to take place will be 2024.

Meanwhile, let’s look at what civil rights groups are saying about other Conservative initiatives, such as the Online Safety Bill which was finally passed in the British parliament.

One of them, Open Rights Group (ORG), spelled it out in no uncertain terms to say it was a piece of legislation “threatening our privacy and undermining our freedom of expression.”

The bill – one of the “think-of-the-children” laws cropping up across the globe lately – has been consistently denounced as using the front of caring for online well-being of young people simply to facilitate more censorship and more effective mass surveillance, affecting everybody – those that it’s supposed to protect, included.

“An overblown legislative mess that could seriously harm our security by removing privacy from internet users” – that’s how ORG’s Campaigns Manager James Baker put it.

The gist of the bill that has since been adopted is the scanning of private messages – and the gist of the opposition to it is that it simply cannot be done safely.

“These are powers more suited to an authoritarian regime not a democracy and could harm journalists, and whistle-blowers, as well as parents, domestic violence victims and children who want to keep their communications secure from online predators and stalkers,” Baker warned.

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

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