, 15 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Working my way through today's #onlineharms White Paper. The Tories' intention to regulate the internet was a major red flag in their 2017 election manifesto. Obviously the discourse has changed since then, but we'll see if they've learned the required lessons.
The report's fairly unequivocal in its presentation of the Russian Government as a foreign policy and cyber-security threat. We've heard ministers state as much for some time, but it's always striking to see it presented so starkly.
The @guardian gets an unexpected feature too for their broad-spectrum research into targeted abuse of their writers. Again, it's something we've all know for a while, but good to see it featuring in such a report.
This is interesting. Whilst the observations themselves are fairly accurate, there isn't really a sensible way to regulate things like UX design, and this could easily become heavy handed and restrictive if a new regulatory body tries to do this.
If they try to transpose the framework they use for gambling, which this seems to suggest, this will fail. The psychology behind engagement loops is similar, but implementation is very different and it'd kneecap a lot of providers. Any reg would have to be far more flexible.
Interesting that the Gov classifies content around FGM as having a 'less' clear definition in relation to harm 🤔
Worth keeping an eye on attempts to strengthen 'right to be forgotten' laws too. People have already started leveraging this legislation to suppress unfavourable stories about themselves, so this needs to be balanced by exemptions for reporting etc.
Someone at @DCMS is a Love Island fan
Gov expects the "principle of proportionality" to be applied to content regulation and enforcement. The question is, who establishes the initial scale of proportionality: the regulator or the provider?
Not a fan of the "duty of care" principle that they're working from here. It sounds correct in theory, but there's significant grounds for statutory overreach here, particularly in relation to important but shocking content.
Another area where this sort of thing will really struggle: Distinguishing between public and private spheres. This line's pretty vague, and moves pretty quickly as new platforms. Can any reg move fast enough to correctly track this?
DCMS plans for their new regulator to be 'cost neutral' and wants to recuperate costs through levies and other charges against tech companies. I'm sure Facebook etc will love that...
This is where things start to get messy. ISP blocking makes sense in theory when we're talking about small sites promoting terrorism etc, but it's far more dangerous when you apply that same principle to large scale communication networks like Twitter.
All in all, it's an interesting report. There's a better understanding of the current tech landscape than expected, but there's still serious concerns around balance and enforcement, and if the state is going too far.
The call for a regulator with real teeth is going to get louder on the next few years, but we have to be careful we don't create something that's going to rip the internet's throat in the process of trying to tackle its various problems.
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