Boris Johnson’s Tory government is cracking down even further on our internet freedoms. It’s doing it under the guise of children accessing porn. Yet the ever-clueless Guardian propped their nonsense up anyway.
Authoritarianism under the guise of child protection
The Tory government wants Twitter and Reddit to introduce age checks for users. It says it’s because of the amount of porn on these sites. The government therefore wants Twitter and Reddit to force users to give them passport, driving licence, or bank details to prove their age. Obviously, at present, anyone can use these platforms over the age of 13. And sites like Twitter would have the option to remove porn altogether. But this would really impact sex workers.
Paul Bernal is a professor of IT law. On Wednesday 9 February, he tweeted about the Tories’ planned changes. Bernal called it a “slippery slope”. He said:
The real idea is to make the whole internet subject not just to age checks but identity checks. It’s an authoritarian wet dream.
authorities can determine what content is and is not acceptable is a recipe for disaster.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
Others will approve because they don’t like the idea that anyone can like ‘adult’ content – but they don’t understand how putting an infrastructure in place that means the authorities can determine what content is and is not acceptable is a recipe for disaster.
— Prof Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) February 9, 2022
And others will say ‘so you think it’s all OK then?’. No. No-one thinks it’s OK – at least no-one serious. What we know is that things can and probably will get worse, and this kind of an approach is one of the ways to make that happen faster and more irreversibly.
— Prof Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) February 9, 2022
So, did the Guardian question the government’s reasons for this policy? Did it hell.
The Guardian: shilling for the Tories?
Writer Jim Waterson framed most of the article around the Tories wanting to stop children accessing porn. As he wrote:
Ministers said that social networks “where a considerable quantity of pornographic material is accessible” will have to conform to the same age verification rules as other commercial pornography websites.
Waterson also noted that:
The proposed law will see individual British internet users required to hand over a form of identification – such as a passport, driving licence or credit card – to an age verification provider, which would then tell a website hosting porn that the user is over 18. Outlets that fail to prove they have robust age checks could be fined 10% of their global revenue by the media regulator Ofcom, or risk being blocked altogether by British internet service providers.
He got quotes from people in the age verification business. And he did highlight the potential impact on sex workers and smaller websites. But not once did Waterson mention any of Bernal’s crucial points. Nor did he get comment from anyone with expertise in privacy or civil liberties issues.
Tories: policing the internet
As Bernal alluded to, the Tories’ proposed rules for Twitter and Reddit are really about control of the internet. The Canary previously wrote:
As if censorship on the internet wasn’t bad enough already, the Online Safety Bill will just entrench and further it. It arms both the government and social media companies with extra tools. They could use these to even more actively crack-down on dissent, legitimate protest, and opposition.
Now, the Tories’ using access to porn as an excuse to restrict Twitter and Reddit adds to this. Not only will this hit sex workers hard, but it also shows our freedoms on the internet are becoming more and more at risk. Now, more than ever, we need an independent critical media, not one happy to whitewash this government’s increasingly draconian plans.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?