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The Internet: Broken or About to be Broken? @cyberleagle opens #SCLConf2019
Well, it’s broken. And the list of reasons why it’s broken is pretty endless. Even @timberners_lee thinks so! But the Internet is still a good and liberating thing overall - there is probably more good than bad
It would be foolish to think that state-defined social good can be achieved through the manipulation of technology or regulation for that matter. Legislation which mandates that technology regulates freedom of expression to achieve such aim is dangerous
It is not a mistake to allow people to speak and express themselves without an editor’s blue pencil hovering over them - it is democratic and reflects human rights
Common misapprehension that E-Commerce Directive requires online operators to remove content when it only removes the liability shield that they have once they are put on notice of infringing content. An obligation to remove content would be a divergence from current law
Art 15 E-Commerce Directive prevents member states from passing laws to impose general monitoring obligations re unlawful material and current proposals cross that line in respect of lawful material
Re #OnlineHarms there is a so-called duty of care, but there is no direct right of action for breaching that duty. Enforcement would be down to stat regulator on content-specific areas; but “harm” is not defined so will hinge on their subjective assessment
The White Paper actually diverges from underlying principle of online/offline equivalence (what is illegal offline is illegal online) - it is based on the notion that the online world is somehow very different and requires special treatment
The parallel drawn between the duty of care that occupiers have under the Occupiers Liability Act - which only relates to physical harm, not what people say to each other - with that of online platforms is very wrong and #OnlineHarms proposals are based on this
If the Internet is broken it is because we are broken. The Law Commission is looking into laws on what is lawful/unlawful speech in modern day society. But new rules on online speech could be an “epic act of self-harm”
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