Shame: London Guardian editorial advocates for Internet censorship

So, The New York Times and The Washington Post want to eliminate free speech, CNN endorses the violent Antifa and now the London Guardian wants to censor the Internet.

It turns out that 2017 has been quite an interesting year already.

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks brought to the public’s attention of the latest efforts to begin censoring the Internet. He tweeted:

The newspaper published an editorial on Monday entitled “The Guardian view on censoring the internet: necessary, but not easy.” It argued that there should be limited to a free Internet, and that censorship should be embraced, either by the government or by private companies.

Here are a few excerpts (emphasis ours):

The internet can be a vile place, and the instinct to enforce some standards there is not misplaced. The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, is quite right to say that crime online is as serious as crime offline. Even the Guardian, wedded to the idea of free speech, does not imagine that this is an unrestrained freedom – only that the limits that the law should set are minimal and largely concerned with public order. But some limits must exist, and they must be enforced.

The questions are: who should set these limits and who then should police them? Both governments and private companies have a part to play, even if government action often takes the form of demanding that private companies execute government policies. It is here that Ms Saunders may have gone too far in her zeal to keep the web clean. The justification for government censorship is that some hate speech is an incitement to violence or a dangerous ratcheting of community tensions, whereas some – no matter how offensive – should be permitted by law, even if we are happy for private companies to act against it. Personal abuse, when it is not accompanied by threats of violence or worse, should not be the domain of the government. Courtesy and respect are vital but best enforced by the owners of web spaces. The most effective action is carried out by companies many have never heard of, such as Cloudflare, an American company that handles about 10% of the traffic on the web, which has thrown the neo-Nazi site the Stormer off the internet. A representative of the Stormer, interviewed in last week’s Vice film about the far-right violence in Charlottesville, described how they used their virtual presence to build support in the real world, and described the journey to Charlottesville with other members of the “alt-right” as “stepping off the internet”.

In authoritarian countries the censorship of the net is far more complete, and often impossible to justify. The Trump regime may be moving in that direction, as is shown by its recent attempt to get the IP addresses of every visitor to a site organising demonstrations against him. The effort by the Chinese government to censor the output of the Cambridge University Press is more worrying. The publisher’s belated decision to resist pressure and reinstate 350 temporarily censored journal articles is admirable. It shows there is no single benevolent world authority to set the rules for the internet. Different countries will have different regulatory regimes, some better, some worse, and private companies will have varying ethical standards. That is inevitable. The central distinction that applies to governments is not the act of censorship itself, but the extent to which the rules are openly and democratically made, and fairly applied through an independent judiciary.

When the British newspaper says that it is “wedded to the idea of free speech,” the editorial makes it clear that it isn’t.

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