What’s legal to say should be legal to type. A government regulator shouldn’t control your speech, online or off. Yet the new Online Safety Bill could lead to just that, or worse.
Our particular concern relates to a requirement to “prevent” users seeing or engaging with illegal content. In this context, the algorithmic screening would be carried out prior to the content being uploaded. Put simply, as you begin to upload your content, the system would sweep in and check it out, and potentially remove it before it has been
This is a modern, 21st century form of prior restraint. Something we haven't seen in the UK since 1695! Prior restraint is a particularly severe restriction on free speech. It is an action that prohibits speech, or any other form of expression, before it can take place1. With regard to online speech, it means banning speech, text, images, or videos, before being published or posted.
Shocking you might not even have a possibility to appeal, because, despite the Bill allowing for them to so, there is no requirement for you to be informed about the restriction. This is incompatible with human rights law which requires that procedural safeguards are in place to prevent arbitrary interference with freedom of expression. The overall outcome would be a chilling effect on public debate.
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