We wrote to the editor of the Guardian alongside Article 19, English PEN, Open Rights Group and Index on Censorship:
“We agree with your characterisation of the online harms white paper as a flawed attempt to deal with serious problems (Regulating the internet demands clear thought about hard problems, Editorial, 9 April). However, we would draw your attention to several fundamental problems with the proposal which could be disastrous if it proceeds in its current form.
Firstly, the white paper proposes to regulate literally the entire internet, and censor anything non-compliant. This extends to blogs, file services, hosting platforms, cloud computing; nothing is out of scope.
Secondly, there are a number of undefined “harms” with no sense of scope or evidence thresholds to establish a need for action. The lawful speech of millions of people would be monitored, regulated and censored.
The result is an approach that would make China’s state censors proud. It would be very likely to face legal challenge. It would give the UK the widest and most prolific internet censorship in an apparently functional democracy. A fundamental rethink is needed.”
Antonia Byatt Director, English PEN
Silkie Carlo Director, Big Brother Watch
Thomas Hughes Executive director, Article 19
Jim Killock Executive director, Open Rights Group
Joy Hyvarinen Head of advocacy, Index on Censorship
Read the letter here: Internet regulation proposals could censor the lawful speech of millions