The British government has ordered law enforcement officials to begin arresting and prosecuting citizens who share non-mainstream opinions online that fact-checkers disagree with.
Following the passing of the Online Safety Bill this week, UK authorities now have the power to punish citizens who share anything deemed ‘hateful’ or labelled as ‘misinformation’ on social media.
The UK’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) will have the power to issue criminals fines of up to £18 million (roughly $22 million) on non-compliant citizens and companies. In some cases, people may face jail time for non-compliance.
Breitbart.com reports: The bill regulates illegal content like child sexual abuse and terrorism, but also goes far beyond it. Companies will face penalties for failing to clamp down on scam ads, “deepfake” pornography, and even for failing to offer users the ability to limit their exposure to “anonymous trolls.”
The bill has undergone several twists and turns in its development. At times, the government sought powers to override encrypted communications, leading to warnings from the encrypted chat apps Signal and Facebook-owned WhatsApp that they may have to quit the country rather than comply. The government eventually backtracked on this measure.
The bills passage was welcomed by Imran Ahmed, head of infamous Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), the organization behind Joe Biden’s “disinformation dozen” smear against critics of COVID-19 policies.
“Too much tragedy has already befallen people in this country because of tech companies’ moral failures,” Ahmed said in a comment reported by the BBC.
Former U.S. State Department official and online freedom campaigner Mike Benz condemned the bill’s passage, saying it would grant too much power to the “sprawling” UK deep state.
“This will probably end up being one of the darkest days we mark in the history of Internet censorship,” said Benz. “The sprawling British State & UK intelligence censorship apparatus constructed over the past 7 years has just been made extremely armed & dangerous.”