The proliferation of social media platforms has given people all over the world a voice by offering a forum in which they are free to express themselves and have access to information. However, governments in several critical nations are seeking to stifle this voice in the name of avoiding “harm” and holding giant tech corporations accountable for “disinformation.” This reasoning is being used to justify their actions.
Silence in the media
There has been an online media blackout by major news firms despite the serious nature of these measures, with many of them pretending to embrace the new legislation. Because of this blackout, citizens are unable to be fully informed & engaged in the vital issue that concerns their right to freedom of speech.
Politicians as well as the apparatus of censorship
Politicians, non-governmental organizations, and news outlets all say that their mission is simply to shield the general public from misleading information. New laws, on the other hand, have a number of ambiguous definitions and loopholes that will open the door to wide application, overreach, or abuse. Under the pretense of combating “hate speech,” a number of nations are currently in the process of constructing a massive and interconnected censorship infrastructure. This apparatus will enable governments to censor regular individuals on social media as well as other Internet platforms.
The Application of the Censorship Laws
The goal of governments is ultimate control, and they plan to compel information businesses to conform to their regulations in order to achieve this goal. For example, politicians in the United Kingdom have threatened to arrest social network administrators who do not filter sufficient amounts of information, while lawmakers in Brazil have proposed significant fines for platforms that fail to remove “fake news.” In Australia, only one government official has the power to order social media firms to erase content, but in Canada, a state agency has the ability to censor and manage what people in Canada view online.
Important Countries Taking the Initiative
Politicians all around the world have either just approved broad new laws or are on the edge of implementing such laws, which would enable governments to censor regular individuals on social media and other Internet platforms. Some of these laws have already been enacted. It is possible that in the near future, the government of Ireland may have the power to arrest persons just for the possession of content that officials have deemed to be “hateful.” The RESTRICT Act recently passed in the United States gives the federal government the potential right to monitor the online activities of any citizen who is regarded to be a threat to national security.
The European Union and the Act on Digital Services
The European Union is the most important actor in this drama since it is trying to gain broad new regulatory authority over social media corporations. Because of its strong economic position and widespread influence, the European Union (EU) has the potential to affect how social media firms function all across the world if it decides to take action. Large technology corporations are required under the Digital Services Act of the EU to share their data with “vetted researchers” from non-profit organizations and academic institutions. This would provide NGOs and the state sponsors of NGOs the ability to moderate content.
In the United States, the RESTRICT Act
For visiting banned websites using “virtual private networks” (VPNs), which are meant to build a private connection between a computer or phone and the Internet, users in the United States might face a fine of up to $250,000 or 20 years of jail under the RESTRICT Act, which was introduced by a Democrat from Virginia named Senator Mark Warner.
The rise of totalitarianism in Western countries
There has not been a period even somewhat comparable to this one in the roughly 30 years that Western cultures have had broad public usage of the internet. The majority of the time, these rules were implemented by officials in the middle of the night, with very little publicity or public outrage. As a result, we are currently experiencing the creation of a government infrastructure that possesses the capacity to manipulate the information environment in such a manner that it can determine what people think to be real and what is untrue. As a result of this, it is not an exaggeration to state that the West is on the edge of a new and much more potent kind of totalitarianism than either Communism or Fascism, which were restricted in their reach by geography. In other words, totalitarianism in the West is on the verge of becoming much more widespread.
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