PRITI PATEL has threatened to crack down on abusive behaviour online following the death of Conservative MP David Amess amid fears extremists could use social media platforms to organise attacks. But her plans won’t curb much use without mirroring authoritarian measures used by China, one expert has said.
Conservatives have responded to the death of their colleague Sir David Amess by proposing harsh new curbs for online harm. Proposals also backed by Labour would crack down on online anonymity by modifying the already proposed Online Harms Bill of 2019. In action, it would work to expose would-be extremists before they can carry out attacks, but experts have identified several potential issues with the policy.
They have raised concerns that invasive Government actions would change the internet landscape for the worst and added pre-existing policies have already caused harm to minority communities.
The home secretary’s proposals have precedent in other countries, namely China.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a stranglehold on society via sweeping controls that employ censorship and curb freedom of expression.
Residents must navigate the “Great Firewall of China” that blocks sites like YouTube and Google while adhering to strict identification requirements.
Speaking to This website, Paul Bischoff, security and privacy advocate at Comparitech.com, said the Home Secretary would have to mirror some of these features to succeed with her plans in the UK.
He said: “Priti Patel’s plan if it were to succeed, might look something like China’s current real-name registration system.
“Under that system, most social networks require users to register with a phone number.
“In turn, getting a phone number requires some sort of government-issued ID.”
Mr Bischoff said Ms Patel could conceivably launch such as system in the UK, but not without a fight.
Ultimately, he added, she would need to introduce policies that would have a “chilling effect” on free expression in the UK.
He said: “First off, the UK would have to force all the social networks, most of which are based in the USA, to adopt real-name registration standards.
“It would also have to account for alternative social networks that don’t comply and workarounds such as VPNs that spoof the user’s location.
“Enforcement, therefore, wouldn’t only require removing anonymity, it would also require a high degree of internet censorship similar to China.
“Removing online anonymity violates individual privacy and has a chilling effect on free. “Brinkwire Summary News”.